Chelsea might have beaten Slavia Prague away from home in the first leg of the quarterfinal Europa League clash against the Czech Republic side, but it was a difficult test for the Blues, and probably the toughest match we’ve played in the Europa League this season.
Slavia were by far the better side in the first-half, and the Czech side proved they are no pushovers and their performance showed why they defeated Sevilla in the round of 16.
They had very good chances to win the game and even created more attempts than the Blues, but couldn’t convert their chances.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri had to introduce Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the second-half as things got intense.
Marcos Alonso’s late goal at the Eden Arena gave the Blues a narrow advantage to take back to London for next week’s return match, but Slavia boss Jindrich Trpisovsky believes his side were unlucky to have lost the game.
“There are two levels to see this game. In the first half we played as we wanted and what we prepared for, but in the second half we spent too much time without a ball. We lost the game in the worst possible result, our qualification plans are cracked now,” said Trpisovsky, as reported by the tournament’s official website.
“These big games are about being effective, we had situations when we should have scored.
“Chelsea showed us their quality when they scored the winner. I may praise my players for the performance – we gave everything, played a very decent first half, but now we are disappointed because we lost.”
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri admitted after the game that he knew Chelsea were up against a difficult side.
Sarri said: “We knew very well to play here is very difficult. The opponents are very physical, very aggressive, so we knew we had to face difficulties during the match. We were able to face them well, then in the second half we were able to play better.
“Now we need to think the second leg will be difficult. These opponents are also very dangerous away, like against Genk
[where they won 4-1]
. We need to be careful.”