Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has admitted he was forced to bring Eden Hazard on to rescue his side during their quarter-final first leg at Slavia Prague.
A late Marcos Alonso header was enough to give the Blues a 1-0 victory and a crucial away goal at the Sinobo Stadium, but Sarri’s men put in a performance which was well below par.
Hazard was rested ahead of Chelsea’s huge clash against league leaders Liverpool on Sunday, but the Italian boss clearly felt the need to change the game just after the interval by bringing on his star forward.
When asked if he was planning on playing the Belgian, Sarri said as quoted by the Mail: “No, at the beginning of the match I wanted him on the bench because I thought that, probably, the match was really very difficult.
“Probably I’d need to use him. Of course, if at the end of the first half we were 1-0, I wouldn’t have used him.”
Chelsea struggled for large parts of the match, and the 60-year-old warned about complacency ahead of next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.
He added: “We need to think that the second leg will be difficult because these opponents are really very dangerous also away. Like in the round against Genk.
“And so we need to be careful. It’s very difficult to face them. Really very difficult.
“I’m really happy with the result. Also with the performance because, in this moment, we are able to suffer. In the past we were not able to suffer in the difficult moments of the match.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi, who didn’t feature in the squad, could make a return to the starting XI in the Anfield clash, with Sarri stating: “Of course he is in my mind for the next match, but I have to see the last two training sessions.”