Olivier Giroud reckons that a drop in intensity was what allowed Slavia Prague to launch a comeback in Chelsea’s 4-3 thriller in the Europa League.
Maurizio Sarri’s side were 4-1 up at half-time during the return leg of their quarter-final tie following Pedro’s brace, an own goal from Simon Deli and Giroud’s effort.
Early into the second half, however, Petr Sevcik struck twice to put Prague back into the match and set up a nervy ending for Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge.
Ultimately, though, the Blues held on to secure a 5-3 aggregate victory and a spot in the Europa League semi-finals.
“We started well with good intentions,” striker Giroud told BT Sport.
“We have been efficient up front and solid at the back, but we dropped our intensity after the break.
“But this team never gives up and the last 10 minutes was box-to-box. It was a good fight and now we are in the semi-finals.”
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 18, 2019
But Chelsea’s slip-up early into the second half mirrored that to their recent defeats to Everton and Liverpool in the Premier League.
And Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta admitted their display after the break left them with a sour taste.
“I think it’s our mistake and one we are making very often,” said the Spanish full-back.
“The result is not easy and we keep conceding early goals and making the same mistakes in the second half.
“We put ourselves in a position where we could control the game but we suffered until the end.
“It’s not the way we want to win the trophy but we’re in the semi-finals. They [Slavia Prague] are a tough side, they never give up and showed that when they beat Sevilla in the last round.”
Chelsea will meet Eintracht Frankfurt for the Europa League semi-finals. The first leg will take place at the Commerzbank-Arena in Germany on May 2 before they meet up in London a week later for the return fixture.
— César Azpilicueta (@CesarAzpi) April 18, 2019