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UEFA Europa League
14 February 2013
• Generali Arena, Praha
Referee: D. Orsato
• Attendance: 18952
Thank you for joining me this evening for this LIVE! text commentary, although I can only apologise for the standard of play on the pitch. Stick with Goal.com, as it can only get better from here. I’ve been Chris Teale, thanks for being there.
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME, and Chelsea take a crucial 1-0 win despite a second half that lacked anything much of any real interest. The goal came from substitute Oscar, who slotted home about 45 seconds after coming on and looked livelier in his 10-minute cameo than many of his team-mates did across the full game. However, the Blues do have a handy away goal to take to Stamford Bridge for the return leg next week, and despite offering virtually nothing in this game will be hopeful of closing out the tie against a well-organised if limited Sparta Prague side.
There'll be three minutes of time added on.
Remarkable shot there from Ramires, who manages to hit a shot above the lower tier of the stand behind the goal. Stunning, for all the wrong reasons.
This definitely makes the second leg next week much easier for Chelsea, as they knock the ball around and wind the clock down.
Good shot there from Torres, who sees his shot tipped over wel by Vaclik. Where on earth did that come from?
Assist Eden Hazard
GOAL!!! Thank goodness for that. Oscar has been on the pitch for all of 45 seconds, but comes forward confidently, interchanges well and buries the ball well to give his side a crucial away goal.
Meanwhile, Sparta are happy to dink the ball around in their own half under no pressure, content with the 0-0.
Torres is coming so deep to try and get on the ball. He's there on the halfway line now, trying to get involved.
Lifeless from Chelsea. When Juan Mata gives the ball away regularly, you know it's not going to be a good night.
Decent ball through from Kadlec but Cech comes out comfortably to gather.
Mata plays the ball into the box and Lampard heads the ball straight to the goalkeeper from about six yards out. Probably their best chance of the half, and that tells you something about how poor it has been.
Torres is starting to look very isolated indeed up there on his own, as Azpilicueta's long ball forward is dealt with comfortably by the Sparta defence.
Yellow Card Josef Husbauer
Clumsy there from Josef Husbauer, who catches Ramires and earns himself a yellow card.
Good interchange there from Mata and Hazard but the Belgian gives the ball away almost immediately. Rafael Benitez really needs some fresh faces here.
Cesar Azpilicueta goes in clumsily on Kadlec but avoids a booking. This game is really not very good, and desperately needs someone like Oscar to come on and try and liven things up.
This game has got a little bit scrappy now, as neither team is really playing with any tempo and finds themselves unable to keep the ball again.
Torres sets up Lampard, but his first-time shot goes well over the bar.
There's more urgency from both sides, but neither seem able to keep the ball for any real length of time.
Torres goes up for a high ball in the Sparta area, but play is pulled back for a push on a defender.
Decent shot there from Macej Hybs, but Cech once again gathers well despite some late swerve on the ball.
Another good cross from Zabotocny, but Cech is there to climb high and catch the ball well.
Terrible free kick from Lampard, as it doesn't get high enough to clear the first man.
Oh dear. Chelsea give the ball away near their area again, but Krejci's shot balloons well wide for a throw in.
Already we're back for the second half, which is kicked off by Chelsea.
HALF-TIME, and it’s 0-0 in what has been a rather tame half of football in Prague. The best chances have in fact fallen to the home side, in particular striker David Lafata, and Sparta should probably have put at least one of them away and be in front. Chelsea meanwhile haven’t quite got going yet and look decidedly open in defence, although Fernando Torres had a couple of half-chances that he probably could have done better with. The goalless score is a good reflection of the game so far, with both teams hoping they can find an extra gear or two in the second period.
Great cross there from Zabotocny once again, but the ball is headed clear.
Yellow Card Gary Cahill
Clumsy there from Gary Cahill, who brings down a Sparta player in the centre circle and earns himself a caution.
Another decent chance there for Torres, but once again his shot is poor and straight at the goalkeeper. He just can't quite get the right contact.
A painful one there for Marin, who goes down after taking a knee to his backside. He'll be OK to continue, though.
Great ball there from Vaclav Kadlec, and it really should not reach Lafata, who is able to turn and shoot just wide. Too much space there for Sparta.
Dear me. Swift Chelsea break and the ball falls to Torres, who stabs his shot straight at the goalkeeper having been in plenty of space. Weak.
Sparta have upped it in the last few minutes and force Chelsea to give the ball away, with Branislav Ivanovic having to steer it away for a corner.
Lafata should have buried that one as well. The ball is deflected to him in the penalty area, and despite a hint of offside he sends his shot just wide under pressure from Cech.
Both teams are trying hard, but they can't quite get any real forward momentum. This game hasn't really caught fire yet.
Oh dear. The ball is played back to Marek Matejovsky, but the former Reading midfielder blazes his shot well over the bar from outside the box.
Sparta are really going nowhere with the ball, and Chelsea are happy to let them have it and are not exerting any pressure on them.
This game has slowed down a bit now, as Sparta knock it around a bit then Chelsea do the same.
Great ball there, but Lafata is offside as he bears down on goal.
After Chelsea largely dominated the opening exchanges, Sparta have started to put together some good passages of play at the moment, although Lafata's chance is all they have to show for it.
Chance! Zapotocny plays in a great ball that finds Lafata in the box, but his sliding shot goes high and wide. Good play there from Sparta.
A few boos there from the home fans for Petr Cech, who spent a year and a half with Sparta Prague in 2001.
Good ball there from Hazard, although Torres gets nowhere near it and it goes clear.
Marin comes forward on the left and is cynically blocked off by Tomas Zapotocny just outside the box. The resulting free kick is punched away by Vaclik.
Then, Chelsea counter through Marko Marin, who plays in Hazard in the box. However, his shot is deflected just wide in what is the first good chance of the evening.
Vaclev Hadlec plays the ball forward as Sparta try to make inroads of their own, but Gary Cahill is there to clear the ball comfortably.
Juan Mata plays a through ball into the box looking for Fernando Torres, but the Sparta defence just about manage to clear it away for the first corner of the evening.
Decent early shot there from captain Frank Lampard, who hits it first time from outside the box. However, Tomas Vaclik is equal to the task and gathers low to his right.
Eden Hazard comes forward well and goes over, but the referee tells him to get up and doesn't award a free kick.
Teasing early cross from David Lafata, straight into Petr Cech's arms for a comfortable catch.
Here we go! Sparta Prague get the first half underway.
We’re close to kick off here, as both sides make their way onto the pitch.
Sparta Prague have a few new injury problems, including former Blues player Jiri Jarosik, but they name a strong side with goalkeeper Marek Cech on the bench having recovered from a finger injury. Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez makes three changes to the side that beat Wigan, with Ashley Cole replaced by Ryan Bertrand at left-back and David Luiz missing the game through suspension. Meanwhile, Ramires moves back into a deep-lying midfield position while Juan Mata also starts. Club captain John Terry is named on the bench for the Blues.
Now, here’s Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Bertrand; Ramires, Lampard; Marin, Mata, Hazard; Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cole, Terry, Ake, Oscar, Benayoun.
How are those teams looking? First, here’s Sparta Prague: Vaclik; Zapotocny, Svejdik, Holek, Hybs; Husbauer, Vacha, Matejovsky; Kadlec, Lafata, Krejcl. Subs: Cech, Pamic, Vidlicka, Polom, Janos, Kweuke, Bednar
Meanwhile, Chelsea commence this latest European adventure after finishing third in their Champions League group. This is their first jaunt in this competition since the 2002-03 season, when they lost in the first round to Norwegian side Viking FK. Blues fans still aren’t convinced by interim manager Rafael Benitez, despite sitting third in the Premier League table, so the Spaniard will be hoping to take some more pressure off himself and make an impact in the competition he won with Valencia in the 2003-04 season.
Sparta Prague currently sit third in the Czech Premier League, and have been in this competition since August, when they beat Austrian side Admira 4-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round. One notable player who will be hoping to make an impact is Jiri Jarosik, who spent two seasons with the Blues and earned himself a Premier League winner’s medal at the end of the 2004-05 season but found opportunities dried up with the arrival of Michael Essien. He will be hopeful of showing his former club what they’re missing, with his side keen to make a good start to this tie.
Good evening, and welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE! text commentary of this Europa League match between Sparta Prague and Chelsea. I’m Chris Teale, and I’m glad you found me for this one.
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