CHELSEA may have thought of the Europa League as a poor substitute for the real thing, but they are getting closer to leaving their imprint on the competition.
First half goals from Fernando Torres (pictured) and Victor Moses gave the Blues a stranglehold in their quarter-final tie and another goal from the Spaniard after the break means next week's visit to Moscow has the look of a near formality.
Torres, sporting a mask to protect the nose he broke in the last round against Steaua Bucharest, opened the scoring after 16 minutes when he managed to jut out a leg to prod past keeper Sergei Ryzhikov.
He was on the floor when he got the decisive touch, having tussled with Rubin skipper Roman Sharanov to get on the end of David Luiz's punt from his own half.
Moses made it 2-0 – his seventh of the campaign – on 32 minutes.
Showing great technique, he took the ball on his chest and played a controlled half volley into the roof of the net after Rubin had only managed to half clear a Torres cross out to the edge of the area.
The winger had been involved in the build-up too, discomforting the Russian stopper by glancing a header from Cesar Azpilicueta's right wing cross.
Chelsea were in cruise control, but Rubin reminded them they were still around, when Bebras Natcho sent Petr Cech the wrong way with a 41 st minute penalty – the spot-kick awarded when John Terry blocked a goalbound shot from Cristian Ansaldi with his arm.
An earlier effort from Natcho – letting fly from 30 yards to force Cech into a save - had been Kazan's only other moment of danger, so the goal came slightly out of the blue, but at least it kept Chelsea honest and they applied themselves after the break.
Juan Mata's low shot inside the area needed the combination of a fine stop from Ryzhikov and the alert clear-up from Vitali Kaleshin to prevent a goal.
Eden Hazard came on to further increase the tempo, but it was the nagging line and length of Mata which again unlocked the door on 69 minutes.
The midfielder's excellently judged chip from the left edge of the area gave Torres a free header he could not miss. It was his 18 th goal of the season and it summed up a night of relative comfort for the Blues, who surely have one foot in the semi-finals.
Line up: Cech; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Terry, Bertrand; Ramires, Lampard; Moses (Hazard 65), Mata (Oscar 78), Benayoun (Marin 83); Torres. Subs not used: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Mikel, Ferreira.