Chelsea 1-1 Sparta Prague: Live Score, Highlights, Recap
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UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Chelsea 1-1 Sparta Prague (Chelsea progress on 2-1 aggregate)
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand; Ramires, Mikel; Moses, Mata, Oscar; Torres
Sparta Prague XI (4-1-4-1): Vaclik; Zapotocny, Holek, Svejdik, Hybs; Vacha; Prikryl, Matejovsky, Kadlec, Krejci; Lafata
A venomous strike from Eden Hazard in the first minute of second-half stoppage time ensured Chelsea’s progression to the next round of the Europa League at the expense of Sparta Prague.
Hazard, who had replaced Oscar in the 66th minute, gave the hosts an element of creativity they had lacked until that point, but although Chelsea came close to beating Sparta goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik on several occasions in the final 20 minutes they continued to look vulnerable at the back and were only let off the hook by misses from Vaclav Kadlec and Marek Matejovsky.
Kadlec, for his part, set up the opening goal of the match in the 17th minute when he held up the ball inside Chelsea’s 18-yard box before laying it off for January acquisition David Lafata, who finished emphatically past Blues ‘keeper Petr Cech.
For the longest time it looked as though that goal was going to be enough to get the Czech Republic side into extra time at Stamford Bridge (Oscar’s winner in Prague had given Chelsea a 1-0 advantage following the first leg), but once again this tie was in store for the sort of goal it really didn’t deserve, and once again it was a substitute who did the business for the European champions.
Thanks for following along today, folks. Bags of fun as usual. And there will be all sorts of post-match content from this and all the other Europa League matches up shortly on the site. Cheers.
Hazard. Chelsea 1, Sparta 1. No substitute for quality, but Sparta exit with head held high. (assuming they do exit)— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) February 21, 2013
The fans are hanging around. Devastated, no doubt. But Sparta did themselves well in this tie.
FULL TIME: Eden Hazard wins it for Chelsea at the death. An incredible lash from the Belgium international to put the European champions through to the next round, where they'll face the winner of Ajax-Steaua Bucharest.
An absolutely venomous drive from Hazard, and once again it looks as though a substitute will have done the job for Chelsea.
92' GOAL CHELSEA!!! The Blues are through to the next round!
91' Now Kadlec misses! He was played in ever so well by Matejovsky and had the tie on his boots, but just missed the target to Cech's left. Two minutes of added time.
89' Ramires hammers his shot high and wide on the turn! The ball fell to him in excellent space, but once again he could not hit the target!
87' YELLOW CARD Matejovsky, who will now miss his next European match.
86' YELLOW CARD Ryan Bertrand.
First chants of "f*** off Benitez, you're not wanted here" I've heard tonight. And now Sparta almost score a second.— Tom Adams (@tomEurosport) February 21, 2013
Not a happy club these days, Chelsea.
84' YELLOW CARD to Prikryl, for encroachment.
82' SUBSTITUTION Sparta replace Lafata, the goal-scorer, with Leonard Kweuke, another striker.
The camera pans to a shot of Frank Lampard in the stands, sitting with his father. Benitez chose to rest him tonight. Surely an inept decision if he seriously wants to win this competition.
78' Cech has to be sharp at his right post to deny Hybs. Chelsea still with a lot of the ball, but very little created. David Luiz is warming.
Whatever happens now this has been an utterly dreadful night for Benitez.— Tom Adams (@tomEurosport) February 21, 2013
The Chelsea fans have found their goats, and they are Benitez and Torres.
72' Kadlec, who continues to threaten on the break, goes on a bit of a run down the left but is unable to test Petr Cech. Goal kick.
Hazard on for Oscar. Chelsea fans giving Rafa dog's abuse. Chelsea might as well stick Ross Turnbull up front in place of Torres.— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 21, 2013
So few attacking options on the bench. Why they let Lukaku go out on loan I'll never know.
66' SUBSTITUTION Chelsea take off Oscar in favor of Eden Hazard. A few boos from the crowd, who would no doubt have preferred Torres removed from the match.
65' Matejovsky glides past John Obi Mikel and is somehow allowed all sorts of space to shoot! Thankfully for Chelsea his effort was just wide. Eden Hazard is getting ready to come on, btw.
Ondrej Svejdik and Mario Holek have been very, very good at the heart of the Sparta Prague defense. But can they hold on? Chelsea are coming on a bit at the moment.
59' John Terry forces Vaclik into another terrific save! Decent header by Torres to the captain as well, who instinctively flicked the ball at the target. Better from Chelsea.
Don't look now, but Liverpool are staging a comeback at Anfield. Suarez has just made it 3-1 to the hosts, who are now level on aggregate (3-3) with Zenit St. Petersburg.
56' YELLOW CARD Hybs, who rubbed Azpilicueta off the ball. Not a booking for me, but what do I know.
52' Torres breaks in on goal (a really nice turn as well) but is stopped by Vaclik, who has only had two saves to make, but both of the difficult variety.
How's this for a shock - the other Czech side in this competition, Viktoria Plzen, has just scored against Napoli and now lead 4-0 on aggregate.
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