LONDON — Oscar scored a late winner less than a minute after coming on as a substitute as Chelsea snatched a 1-0 victory at Sparta Prague in the Europa football League last 32 on Thursday.
Report by Reuters
The Brazilian replaced Juan Mata in the 81st minute and was on target shortly afterwards to put the Champions League holders in command ahead of the home leg next week.
Gareth Bale’s double lifted Tottenham 2-1 past Olympique Lyon, but Newcastle were held 0-0 by Metalist Kharkiv and Liverpool went down 2-0 at Zenit St Petersburg.
Russia enjoyed a perfect night as apart from Zenit’s win visiting Rubin Kazan ambushed title holders Atletico Madrid 2-0 and Anzhi Makhachkala came from behind to beat Hanover 3-1.
The biggest surprise was Victoria Plzen’s 3-0 triumph at Italy’s Napoli from Vladimir Darida in the 28th and late goals from Frantisek Rajtoral and Stanislav Tecl.
Plzen did better than the fellow-Czechs from Prague who contained an average Chelsea for a long time and also had scoring chances before Oscar broke their resistance in the 82nd.
The Blues are well-positioned to wrap up the tie at Stamford Bridge in a week’s time and their next opponents could be Ajax Amsterdam, who beat 10-man Steaua Bucharest 2-0 in a duel of former European champions from Toby Alderweireld’s header and Ricardo van Rhijn.
Bale converted free-kicks in in the 45th and in injury time, having now scored the last six goals for Spurs who escaped despite Lyon’s equaliser from Samuel Umtiti.
In St Petersburg, Brazil forward Hulk’s blast in the 70th and a tap from Sergey Semak a minute later clinched victory for the 2008 champions Zenit after Hulk was denied by the post and Luis Suarez came close twice for Liverpool.
Italy’s only win was Inter Milan’s 2-0 against Cluj, Levante crushed Olympiakos 3-0, Dynamo Kiev and Girondins Bordeaux drew 1-1, Basle beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2-0, while BATE Borisov and Fenerbahce produced no goals.