Chelsea into Europa League semi-finals despite second-leg wobble

Chelsea 4 Slavia Prague 3
(Chelsea win 5-3 on aggregate)

Chelsea endured an alarming second-half wobble on their way to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Pedro scored twice and Olivier Giroud struck again in a dominant first-half display by the Blues, who led 4-1 at half-time at Stamford Bridge and 5-1 on aggregate.

Chelsea’s passage to the last four seemed assured, but Slavia Prague scored two early second-half goals and threatened to pull off an extraordinary comeback during a spell in which the home side floundered.

Chelsea, 1-0 up from the first leg, scored three times in the opening 17 minutes of what was initially a totally one-sided quarter-final second leg.

They went ahead after just five minutes, when a lovely move culminated in Pedro exchanging passes with Giroud and nudging the ball past keeper Ondřej Kolář.

A freak own goal by Simon Deli five minutes later appeared to seal Chelsea’s semi-final place.

It also spared the blushes of Pedro, who hit the post with the goal at his mercy after another classy Chelsea move.

Eden Hazard laid the ball across the face of goal to the Spaniard, whose shot against the woodwork rebounded off Deli’s face and into the net.

Pedro was involved in the third goal as well, collecting N’Golo Kante’s defence-splitting pass and teeing up Giroud, who had the simple task of side-footing home his 10th European goal of the season.

Slavia pulled a goal back when captain Tomáš Souček, totally unmarked, headed in a corner on 26 minutes.

Chelsea responded immediately with a goal set up by Emerson, who crossed low from the left for Giroud.

Kolář denied the striker at point-blank range but Pedro’s scuffed follow-up restored Chelsea’s four-goal aggregate lead.

But two stunning goals by Petr Ševčík after the interval hauled Slavia back into the tie from nowhere.

Ševčík cut in from the right and fired past Kepa Arrizabalaga at his near post and then hit the net again with an even better strike.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Emerson, Kante, Barkley (Jorginho 70), Kovacic, Hazard (Willian 65), Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 87), Giroud.
Subs not used: Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill, Higuain.

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