Oscar guides Chelsea to narrow win in Prague

Scott Heavey

Ok so apparently I'm 'contractually obligated' or something to provide a match report for Chelsea's Europa League trip to Sparta Prague. As you probably know, the Blues came away with a 1-0 victory. But if you didn't watch it, you don't know just how dire it was. Because but for the Oscar goal, which was awesome it was really, really, really bad.

The first fifteen minutes went Chelsea's way -- the attacking trio of Juan Mata, Marko Marin and Eden Hazard was clearly going to be too much for a rather slow-looking Sparta defence to contain. The Blues might have been 3-0 ahead if they'd had a striker who anticipates crossing chances, but Fernando Torres kept looking for the cutback rather than making the driving runs he needed to find the back of the net.

The team then decided to make us forget that Torres was having problems by going into collective derp mode. The defending was poor. The midfield was poor. Hazard and Mata remembered that they didn't really care about the Europa League. Only Marin did anything particularly notable, and that mostly involved putting his head down and running as fast as he could.

Fortunately, the hosts weren't much better. David Lafata contrived to miss a series of clear-cut chances in the first half when Chelsea might have been punished for their hilariously awful play. Said insipidness continued most of the way through the second half and only ended when Oscar was swapped on for Juan Mata.

Within seconds of the substitution, the young Brazilian had put the Blues ahead. A turn in midfield led to an exchange with Frank Lampard, and then a one-two with Hazard drew Oscar steaming into the box, where he skipped past a defender and slotted coolly past Tomas Vaclik to make it 1-0.

The goal woke Chelsea up for a few seconds, and Torres then had a stinging near-post shot saved well by Vaclik, but then they remembered it was the Europa League and stopped caring once more. And that's how things finished.

A 1-0 away win is a very good result, don't get me wrong. But the performance was poor and would not have worked against a better team, and frankly I wish I had been watching something else. Oh well.

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