The official website for European football

Ranieri thanks his lucky stars

Published: Tuesday 16 September 2003, 23.02CET
Chelsea FC manager Claudio Ranieri said luck was on his side after a 1-0 win away at AC Sparta Praha.
Published: Tuesday 16 September 2003, 23.02CET

Ranieri thanks his lucky stars

Chelsea FC manager Claudio Ranieri said luck was on his side after a 1-0 win away at AC Sparta Praha.

Chelsea FC manager Claudio Ranieri confessed that luck was on his side after a late goal from defender William Gallas was enough to see off a stubborn AC Sparta Praha team. "I'm a lucky man," he admitted. "I have fantastic players and my philosophy is to try to win. All my players try to win."

Vast improvement
The victory gave Chelsea a valuable three points away from home in their first UEFA Champions League Group G game of the season. Ranieri conceded that Chelsea's second-half performance was a vast improvement on the first 45 minutes, as Damien Duff, Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink replaced Adrian Mutu, Emmanuel Petit and Hernán Crespo respectively.

Crespo needs time
"In the second half I changed the system of my team and we played with two wingers, Duff and Geremi," explained Ranieri. "When they were playing, they created two good chances for Crespo, so I think we deserved to win." The Italian urged fans to be patient with Crespo, whose profligacy in front of goal almost cost the visitors dear. "He is a top player but he isn't yet in a good condition to score goals," Ranieri added.

'Under pressure'
Meanwhile, Sparta coach Jirí Kotrba was disappointed to end his first Champions League match in charge with a defeat. But he paid tribute to Chelsea's improved efforts in the second period, saying: "They were better when Duff and Lampard played and we had some trouble. We lost a lot of possession because we were under pressure from Chelsea so we couldn't play technically or constructively. But I was satisfied with our first half."

'Big pity'
Sparta's best chance came from their dynamic midfield player Radoslav Kovác, who shot wide when in space before seeing his header brilliantly saved by Carlo Cudicini at the end of the first half. "I had a good chance but it ended up going wide," he said ruefully. "It was my first match in the Champions League and it was a great atmosphere here in the stadium. I hoped we could get a point out of this match but we didn't and it's a big pity."

Lampard surprised
Chelsea midfielder Lampard was one of six international players to start the game on the bench as Ranieri continued to rotate his squad. The England international, who was a key player when he did come on, said: "We all respect our coach. All the players understand the situation with so many players in our team. Two hours before the match, we had a tactical meeting; it was there that I saw my name among the substitutes. I was a little disappointed."

Last updated: 18/09/03 11.41CET

Related information

Team profiles
Related match
  • SSI Err

http://www.uefa.com/news/newsid=104715.html#ranieri+thanks+lucky+stars

UEFA.com features

What teams need to get through
  • What teams need to get through
  • Watch the five best acrobatic Champions League goals
  • Ones to watch in the group stage
  • Masterclass: Xavi on passing and control
  • Newcomers ready for Champions League debuts
  • Pick of the Week of Football
  • Berezovski and Frick join Europe's 40-somethings
  • Europe's all-time top international goalscorers
  • Introducing football in Gibraltar ...
  • Given has 'unfinished business' with Ireland
1 of 10
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.