Chelsea FC goalkeeper Petr Čech was focusing on the result after the European champions snatched a 1-0 victory on their UEFA Europa League debut against his former club AC Sparta Praha. He felt the Blues' second-half showing in the round of 32 first leg warranted substitute Oscar's late winner, though Sparta goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík was left ruing a "cruel" defeat.
Petr Čech, Chelsea goalkeeper
We won 1-0 away from home, scored and didn't concede, so in that regard it's the ideal result. We could have scored more goals at the beginning of the match, but we became quieter as the game wore on and we have to take the result.
Sparta survived the first 20 minutes and then had a few good counterattacks of their own. It helped lift their spirits and we made a few bad passes which enabled them to do so, especially at the end of the first half. We overcomplicated things at times, but in the second half we showed our experience and were the better side.
I visited the Sparta dressing room. I know it very well because I come here with the national team.
It was strange for me to go into the other dressing room and to warm up on the other side of the pitch. I remember all the games I've played here. It was nice to be back and the atmosphere was great – probably because it stayed at 0-0 for so long.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea midfielder
It was a tough match. I thought we started very well, but Sparta had some good moments of their own in the first half. I don't think we played our best match but we didn't concede a goal and we scored one.
We knew they were a good team. They've been concentrating on just this game for a few weeks. When you come away in Europe no match is easy and when the other team gets some momentum it's difficult, but we stayed in the game and had the quality to score a goal. We still have to concentrate [in the second leg] to make sure we get the right result but we're in a good position now so we have to follow it through.
If it's hard [to focus on the Europa League after dropping out of the Champions League] then we'd better change that very quickly because we're in this competition now so we have to get our attitude right. The Europa League is a fantastic competition to try and win, so that's what we have to do.
Tomáš Vaclík, Sparta goalkeeper
Of course we're disappointed because we were so close to getting a 0-0 draw and after our performance I think we deserved it.
The individual quality of Oscar decided it in the end. He only needed 30 seconds to take the ball and finish in cold blood.
I wouldn't say we had too much respect for them at the beginning of the match. It was more that we'd had a long break and hadn't played for a long time. It was obvious that this was our first competitive match of the year. We got into the pace of the game but unfortunately we conceded. I think we were Chelsea's equals and the defeat was a cruel one.
We have a week to prepare [for the second leg] and I still believe we can score there and qualify. There is still hope and we will fight until the final whistle.
David Lafata, Sparta forward
It was an even match with one or two good chances. Unfortunately we didn't take ours and I wasted one of them. Chelsea showed what a quality side they are by scoring from the one opportunity they created in the second half.
The atmosphere was great and it was a beautiful match, but you play football to win. We're one goal down but we have nothing to lose and we're going to London to fight for the right to stay in the competition. There's still a chance – we're not out yet.
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