Sparta Prague 0-1 Chelsea: Oscar spares Blues' blushes with late strike
Oscar hit a late goal within a minute of emerging from the bench to spare Chelsea’s blushes in their Europa League last 32 first leg clash at Sparta Prague.
Chelsea had already suffered the embarrassment of becoming the first side to exit the Champions League at the group stage as holders, but then struggled to find an important away goal.
Fernando Torres missed a straight-forward effort after 35 minutes and sliced another out for a throw-in during the second half of another disappointing display from the Spaniard.
Gary Cahill was fortunate to remain on the pitch after clumsily treading on Krejci's heel after 57 minutes having already been booked, with referee Daniele Orsato deciding to be lenient with the England defender.
With a stalemate looming, the game was in desperate need of a flash of inspiration so Rafa Benitez brought on Oscar for Juan Mata with just 10 minutes remaining at the Generali Arena.
The Brazilian midfielder notched his sixth European goal of the season 28 seconds later to ease the pressure on Chelsea.
Oscar linked up well with Frank Lampard, played a neat one-two with Eden Hazard on the edge of the box and then raced ahead to place the ball low in the bottom left corner of Tomáš Vaclík's goal.
Sparta were devoid of an answer to the Seleção’s star's magic as the visitors stood firm and the tie is now firmly in Chelsea's control heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge on February 21.