A late header by Marcos Alonso secured the Blues a 1-0 win over the gritty Slavia Prague in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday.
After a goalless first half, the Spanish defender made a break through when he headed into the net in the 86th minute. He paced up into the middle beating two Slavia defenders to collect the long cross from the midfielder Willian.
Since his Chelsea debut in September 2016, 28-year-old Alonso has scored more goals (17) in all competitions than any other defender.
With talisman Eden Hazard coming off the bench for the last half an hour, Chelsea were struggling throughout against the underdog Czech side. Maurizio Sarri made seven changes from the team that defeated West Ham in the Premier League on Monday.
Chelsea also leveled with Arsenal’s eight for keeping more clean sheets in the Europa League this season. They have lost only one of the last 15 European games (W11 D3 L1) and are unbeaten since a 3-0 defeat against
Slavia had several shots on target but they couldn’t pass through the line thanks to Kepa Arrizabalaga’s brilliant goalkeeping performance at Sinobo Stadium.
With the win in Prague, the Blues have avenged their defeat to Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout in2013 Super Cup.