Nervy Blues see off Prague

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It may not have had the drama of the Man City v Spurs Champions League clash from the night before, but Thursday’s second-leg Europa tie between Chelsea and Slavia Prague matched it for goals.

Yet if the first half was comfortably Chelsea’s, the second belonged to the visitors who made a match of it with two quickfire goals to sow seeds of doubt among Blues players and supporters alike.

It finished 4-3 (5-3 on aggregate), but it was a bizarre, unpredictable, strangely open encounter which saw the home side repeatedly warned (and occasionally booked) for time-wasting towards the end, as they ran down the clock.

The Blues now face Eintracht Frankfurt over two legs in early May in the semis of the competition.

Taking a one-goal advantage into Thursday night’s game at the Bridge, Chelsea began brightly – Pedro exchanging a quick one-two with Olivier Giroud after five minutes to lob Ondrej Kolar in the Prague goal to make it 2-0 on aggregate.

Four minutes later a freak own goal made it 2-0 on the night as Pedro’s shot riccocheted off the post and struck lofty defender Simon Deli in the face before bouncing in.

When Pedro unselfishly crossed for Giroud to score a third after 17 minutes, it looked like being a rout.

Although Tomas Soucek headed one back after 25 minutes, Pedro was in the right place to plant a bobbling ball in a minute later to restore the margin, so it was 4-1 at half-time.

Then something odd happened after the break. A left-foot cracker from Petr Sevcik made it 4-2… a feat he repeated three minutes later for 4-3, and suddenly the Blues were consumed by uncertainty.

A string of substitutions helped waste a bit of time, but Chelsea looked uncomfortable right to the final whistle. All the same, a win is a win, and this victory takes the Blues closer to another European final.