After the ignominy of a premature demise from the Champions League as defending champion, Chelsea's quest to win the Europa League began by gaining a slender advantage at Sparta Prague on Thursday.
On another miserable night for striker Fernando Torres, who has scored once in 13 matches, it fell to substitute Oscar to clinch a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the last-32 match.
''We have to create more opportunities and the strikers will score more goals,'' Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez said. ''(Torres') work rate today was really good and thanks to him the rest of the team, especially the second line of offensive players, they could create.''
But there was only gloom for the team Benitez won the Champions League title with in 2005.
Liverpool, the five-time European Cup champions, lost 2-0 at Zenit St. Petersburg to mirror its struggles in the Premier League in which it sits in ninth place.
High-flying Premier League rival Tottenham will take a 2-1 lead to Lyon next Thursday afte...