Despite all the talk about taking things seriously, Chelsea showed far less desire, motivation, and most significantly effort than the eager home side, who pressed, harried, and caused problems all game.
Each side had decent spells in the game, but Slavia posed far more danger from their moments, even if Chelsea did hit the crossbar through Willian and had the ball in the back of the net via Jorginho on a play that was rightly whistled offside well before.
Chelsea’s uninspired effort didn’t really improve with the second half substitutions, but fortunately Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a couple great saves to keep the game scoreless.
But just when it looked like we’d have to settle for the scoreless draw, Marcos Alonso popped up in the penalty area, as he likes to do, and headed home a Willian cross. An easy goal in the end, after all the huffing and puffing and poor play earlier.
So, not the worst result, but far from the best. A highly subpar effort from the Blues, but it is what it is. The tie is far from over, to be sure.
- Few complaints about Sarri’s starting lineup, rotating the right players, with Willian, Pedro, Giroud, Alonso, Kovacic, Barkley, and Christensen coming in to replace Hazard, Hudson-Odoi, Higuain, Emerson, Kante, and Loftus-Cheek from the weekend.
- Like-for-like subs with Hazard, Kante, Loftus-Cheek coming in for Pedro, Kovacic, Barkley.
- Chelsea remain unbeaten in the Europa League.
- Benfica beat 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2 on the other side of the semifinal matchup. On the other side of the bracket, Arsenal beat Napoli 2-0 and Valencia beat Villareal in the away leg, 3-1. So they’re looking pretty good.
- Next up: Liverpool on Sunday at Anfield