Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri: 'Could have done better' but pleased we won
Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri admitted that he was pleased to escape with a 1-0 win over BATE Borisov after claiming his side had "all the conditions to play badly" on a freezing night in Belarus.
Olivier Giroud's first goal of the season early in the second half proved enough for the Blues to book their place in the Europa League round of 32 against BATE, who vastly improved on their showing in a 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge last month and struck the frame of Kepa Arrizabalaga's goal three times.
In addition to the cold temparatures Chelsea had to contend with a less than flawless playing surface at Borisov Arena. After the match Sarri said he was far more satisfied with three points than his team's performance.
Asked what aspect of the game pleased him most, Sarri replied: "The result. I think we didn't play very well, I didn't like the first half because we moved the ball only horizontally and slowly, so it was hard to be dangerous.
"It was better in the first 20 minutes of the second half but we didn't manage the last 15 minutes well. The best thing about this evening was the result.
"It wasn't easy to play a good game here, it was all the conditions to play badly, but I think we could have done better."
Giroud had gone 795 minutes without finding the net for Chelsea before nodding in Emerson's inviting delivery from the left flank in the 52nd minute, and speaking to BT Sport after the match he expressed his relief at breaking his duck.
"It's true that I was hoping to score soon, because I came back late from the World Cup and after I lacked a bit of efficiency and luck sometimes," he said.
"But you always need to keep working hard in training and keep believing, keep the faith. So that's what I did on a good cross from Emerson, and that's what we need to do more often."
Giroud was handed a start by Sarri as Alvaro Morata, scorer of five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions, was excused from the trip to Belarus.
"I'm pleased for him." Sarri said of Giroud. "He's a very important player for us, he's very useful for the team but I know very well that strikers want to score, and so for his confidence it's very important. But I don't want him to be worried about scoring because for us he's very important."