Having been denied victory with his club on a visit to his home country, Petr Cech was left to reflect on the small margins that meant it was Bayern Munich rather than Chelsea who added to their European silverware won last year.
The UEFA Super Cup may not have the prestige of those competitions contested throughout the season but prior to this week’s game in Prague, Cech made it clear he was hungry to win it to banish the memory of heavy defeat by Atletico Madrid a year earlier.
He admitted Chelsea had underperformed that night in Monaco, but that was not the case this time round in the Czech Republic.
‘The only thing that was missing was five seconds, because Bayern scored with the last kick of the game,’ Cech lamented, ‘and then they held their nerve for the penalty shoot-out.
‘But for a lot of time we were down to 10 men and it was very difficult. We had to work really hard to defend the lead and we did ever so well to go to the last seconds, and then we were a bit unlucky because the ball ricocheted from somewhere.
‘To concede in the last seconds is really hard to take but overall I think it was a great game from both teams. It was very entertaining but Bayern are the happier, and they worked hard to do it. They had heartache in 2012 in the Champions League final and this time it was the same for us.
‘Regardless of whether it was in Prague or anywhere else in the world, a victory is a victory and we don’t have the cup in our hands. Congratulations to Bayern but it is disappointing for us because we did really well.’
Chelsea had been leading 2-1 following crisp strikes from Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard, when Javi Martinez levelled it at the very end of extra time. When it came to penalties, Cech was a whisker away from keeping out Bayern’s fifth from Xherdan Shaqiri. Instead Manuel Neuer, who scored a penalty past Cech in the Munich final, saved Chelsea’s final kick by Romelu Lukaku.
‘It was really unlucky because I waited for him [Shaqiri] to shoot there and I arrived in time and got a hand to the ball, but it touched the post at the back and went in when I just needed a small touch to get it out. I didn’t manage to keep the last one out but Neuer did. Last time it was very disappointing for him and today it was very disappointing for me, but that’s football.
‘I asked him if he is shooting a penalty again, he said he wasn’t but I said you never know because if it goes to another five players then he might. He had a very good game. In the second half he made some important saves and he made one decisive penalty save and congratulations to him.’
Jose Mourinho on the eve of the game highlighted the importance of this Super Cup experience in preparing the team to take on Europe’s best in the Champions League, starting next month.
‘I think we showed that we are ready to compete with everybody,’ declared Cech, ‘because this Bayern team are the Champions League winners and they won the treble last season, so they were the favourites in this match and for this Champions League campaign we showed that we are ready to compete.’