Chelsea secured a 1-0 win away at Slavia Prague in the first leg of UEL quarterfinals
True to its reputation, the atmosphere in the Sinobo stadium provided for an extremely energetic and enthusiastic performance from the home side who, to their credit, kept up their pressing to the very end and troubled the Chelsea back four on more than one occasion.
Kepa was called into action multiple times and besides one slight fumble at collecting a cross, put in an impressive display to shut out. Willian was the creative spark for Chelsea, helped by the substitutes Hazard and Loftus-Cheek who added some attacking flair to a dull display.
The goal itself came from an unlikely source, Marcos Alonso heading home a beautifully arched cross from Willian in the 86th minute to give Chelsea a valuable away goal heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next week. Here are the Chelsea player ratings from the game.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 7
The only blot on his otherwise stunning personal display was his nervy moments when coming to collect crosses, but the Spaniard delivered when called upon to make some crucial saves, the best of his 4 being denying Boril from close range. Kept his side in the tie with his contributions
Cesar Azpilicueta - 6
Didn’t have one of his usually solid nights down the right as his work going forward and his attacking quality and crossing precision was missing. Allowed one or two crosses from his flank but did an overall decent job of protecting his turf.
Antonio Rudiger - 6.5
Took a lot of responsibility in Luiz’s absence and did a lot of mopping up and running work, especially in the channels to ensure the threat from the home side was restricted to a minimum. Had a much better second half showing and repelled Prague’s attack well.
Andreas Christensen - 6
Like Rudiger, had one or two nervy moments of his own in the first half but did well in the entirety of the game as Chelsea had to absorb a huge amount of pressure from Slavia Prague. Did well to rotate the ball, ending the night with a 91% pass percentage.
Marcos Alonso - 7.5
Chelsea’s match-winner on the night looked fresh right from off the word go but struggled to make his buccaneering runs as Slavia kept up the pressure on Chelsea’s end. Allowed a few dangerous crosses from his position but made up for it with a well-taken header right at the death to win it for Chelsea.
Mateo Kovacic - 4.5
Probably Chelsea’s most ineffective player on the night, the Croatian did precious little to impact the game either through his forward runs or via his ball distribution.
Ross Barkley - 5
At par with Mateo Kovacic for putting in an equally disappointing performance, the Englishman will reflect on the work required on his attacking contributions. Put in a few strong tackles but eventually faded as the game wore on.
Jorginho - 5.5
Struggled against Prague’s physicality all throughout, only playing 43 passes in the entire game (his season average is 85) and looked out of control, failing to get involved in his team’s build-up largely due to the home side’s relentless pressing, which has proved to be the Italian’s undoing on many occasions this season.
Pedro - 4.5
Looked a couple of yards off the pace all throughout the night and failed to create anything significant for himself or his team-mates. Had zero crosses and played just a single key pass and was substituted at the hour mark. Not the most ideal performance when you have a teenager vying for your position.
Willian - 6.5
Tried his best to provide the spark to Chelsea’s attacking play, coming close to scoring a beauty himself as he sent a thunderous strike that struck the crossbar in the first half. Worked hard to do his defensive shift and also set up Alonso’s header with a beautiful cross.
Olivier Giroud - 5.5
Found himself isolated for large parts of Slavia’s pressure and didn’t really manage to create anything significant using his link-up play with the fellow forwards. Won a fair share of aerial duels but nothing much came out of his efforts.
Ngolo Kante - 6
Kante put himself about and covered the yards Kovacic failed to do. Did well to make challenges and hassle the Prague midfield to help relieve the pressure on his defence, delivering the typical Ngolo Kante performance with his energy and tenacity.
Eden Hazard - 6.5
Was brought on with the intent to toy with the tiring Prague defenders and even though the Belgian didn’t exactly have his best nights, he played a part by completing all 7 of his dribbles, winning all of his 12 duels and winning 5 fouls off the hosts.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 6.5
Came on to add some solidity as well some attacking emphasis to a toothless Chelsea midfield and he didn’t have a lot of time to impact the game but played his part in the goal by being involved the build-up. A massive upgrade to both Barkley and Kovacic on the night.