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Result: Chelsea reach Europa League semi-finals after thriller with Slavia Prague

:Headline: Result: Chelsea reach Europa League semi-finals after thriller with Slavia Prague:
Chelsea survive a comeback from Slavia Prague to progress through to the Europa League semi-finals courtesy of a 4-3 victory at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.
By , Senior Reporter | 1mo

Chelsea have earned a place in the Europa League semi-finals courtesy of a dramatic 4-3 victory over Slavia Prague on Thursday night.

The Blues held a 4-1 lead after just 27 minutes before being pegged back by Slavia in the second half, but Maurizio Sarri's side survived the closing half-hour of the contest to prevail 5-3 on aggregate.

Chelsea will now take on Eintracht Frankfurt after the Bundesliga outfit recorded a 2-0 win over Benfica, a result which saw the Portuguese side bow out on away goals with the teams locked at 4-4 over the two legs.

The Premier League team went into the game knowing that avoiding defeat would secure their passage through to the next stage, but it quickly became apparent that Sarri had instructed his players to push for goals.

The Blues took the lead courtesy of a sublime team move which ended with Olivier Giroud threading a pass into the path of Pedro, who proceeded to loft the ball over Ondrej Kolar and into the net.

A second soon arrived in calamitous circumstances. Pedro could only strike the post from two yards out after meeting Eden Hazard's cross, but the ball ricocheted off the woodwork and was inadvertently diverted into the roof of the net by Slavia defender Simon Deli.

Slavia had been left stunned, and the Czech outfit went further behind after 17 minutes. Pedro was released clear on goal by a pass from N'Golo Kante, and the Spaniard unselfishly laid the ball into the path of Giroud to convert into an empty net from 15 yards out.

Chelsea had seemingly wrapped up the tie, but Slavia showed signs of life going forward with Deli seeing a header from a free kick superbly kept out by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

However, the goalkeeper was powerless to keep hold of his clean sheet as Tomas Soucek was left all on his own at the resulting corner to power a header into the net from 12 yards.

The visiting supporters finally had something to cheer in England's capital, but Chelsea soon reopened their three-goal advantage courtesy of Pedro scuffing a shot into the net after Kolar had denied Giroud.

The back-and-forth nature of the game subsided ahead of half time, but Slavia returned for the second half prepared to risk a heavier defeat by searching for the goals which they required to remain competitive.

Jindrich Trpisovsky's approach paid off within six minutes of the restart, with Petr Sevcik taking advantage of being provided with space on the edge of the area to lash a low effort into the bottom corner.

Chelsea had little reason for alarm with Slavia still requiring three goals, but the mood around Stamford Bridge changed for the worse as the visitors further reduced their deficit.

Sevcik was again provided with room to tee up a shot from 25 yards, and the winger proceeded to send a swerving effort into the far top corner of Arrizabalaga's net.

Chelsea had been left shellshocked with Sarri also becoming increasingly agitated on the bench, but that did not stop the Italian from making the decision to withdraw Hazard.

Slavia continued to plough forward with the aim of pulling off a miracle-like comeback, and there were signs that Chelsea were beginning to become wary of giving up such a commanding position.

However, the chances dried up for both teams during a relatively uneventful final quarter, much to the relief of Sarri who would have previously envisaged a routine victory after a hectic period for his squad.

Sarri's attention will turn to facing Burnley in the Premier League on Easter Monday, but the Italian will be aware that his side cannot afford more lapses in concentration if they are to finish in the top four in England's top flight and maintain their challenge in this competition.

CHELSEA (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Palmieri; Kante, Kovacic, Barkley (Jorginho 70'); Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 87'), Giroud, Hazard (Willian 65')

SLAVIA PRAGUE (4-2-3-1): Kolar; Kudela, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Deli, Boril; Kral, Soucek; Sevcik (Stoch 78'), Traore, Zmrhal (Skoda 85'); Masopust (Olayinka 52')



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last updated article - 2019-04-25 10:53:16:
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
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11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416
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