Chelsea left it late to advance into the last 16 of the Europa League, as Sparta Prague’s early goal and stubborn resistance nearly humiliated the European Champions.
Lafata’s strike in the 17th minute cancelled out all the troubles in Prague for the Blues, and with the clock ticking away and extra time looming, Eden Hazard stepped up to be the super sub of the match.
It was risky as soon as Gary Cahill allowed Sparta forward, and when Lafata was not picked up, all the striker had to do was side-foot into the roof of the net.
From there, another goal would have surely been too much for the Blues to overcome, with Petr Cech, making his 100th UEFA appearance tonight, determined to celebrate his landmark, making some key saves.
His desires for a clean sheet pre-match will have been slightly optimistic: Chelsea have conceded six goals in the last four…
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