After keeping a clean sheet and receiving a hero’s welcome in Prague, Petr Cech returns to London with a sense of satisfaction and relief.
The Czech Player of the Year had a relatively quiet night in the Chelsea goal, and was able to celebrate nine minutes from time when Oscar struck a superb winner just seconds after his introduction as a substitute.
‘There was relief that we found the back of the net in the end. We started well and had some chances in the second half,’ said the 30-year-old.
‘As we missed opportunities they found the ground and became more confident. They had a very good spell but in the second half we played better and in the end found the back of the net.
‘Oscar came in, two touches and that was it. Sometimes you don’t have to run that long to score a goal! He did really well, came in and took the ball without questioning anything and in the end finished it really well.
‘We could sense the goal was coming. We were creating more and more opportunities but missing the final pass, and he did really well.
‘It’s good to have the goal away from home, the clean sheet and we are in a strong position to go back home.’
Cech might have been busier had Sparta forward David Lafata managed to hit the target with two big first-half opportunities, and the goalkeeper felt long balls caused his defence a few problems on the night. He will expect a different game against Brentford at the weekend, however.
‘They played really well with balls behind our defence so we couldn’t be too high, or press for 90 minutes without a break,’ he explained. ‘There were spells where we let them come in our half and tried to catch them on the counter. Against Brentford we will be at home, they will defend and we will have to open them up. We’re ready for that.’
Finally, he was asked to describe his emotions at playing at a stadium he once called home as a Sparta player, and has been familiar with during his decade as an international.
‘I will always remember my spell at Sparta Prague. It opened the door for me in the Champions League and to go abroad,’ he said. ‘It was a special moment.’
Now, the task is to finish the job at Stamford Bridge. Tickets for next Thursday’s game are still available.