Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rested Cech in the Pink as Chelsea March on but Should He Be Feeling Blue? Football Correspondent

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rested Cech in the Pink as Chelsea March on but Should He Be Feeling Blue? Football Correspondent

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

CHELSEA 1 s bucharest 0 PETR CECH was all smiles as he left Stamford Bridge last night, despite playing no part in Chelsea's victory, but it would be understandable if the goalkeeper was hiding a few doubts.

Cech's exclusion in favour of 41-year-old debutant Mark Schwarzer (below) raised a few eyebrows before kick-off, considering this was not a dead rubber and that manager Jose Mourinho needed victory to ensure top spot.

The timing seemed significant considering Cech had made a key error during his side's 3-2 defeat by Stoke on Saturday, which capped a calamitous week for Chelsea during which they had conceded seven goals in three matches.

Mourinho is certainly not afraid to leave established players out if they are not performing -- just ask Ashley Cole, who made his first appearance for over five weeks in this routine victory over Steaua Bucharest.

The explanation from Mourinho regarding Cech's omission was certainly plausible. He said: "We are all very happy for Mark. He deserves to play in the Champions League in a game that we needed to win. When I was speaking to Petr about that, we were remembering that I played Carlo Cudicini against Real Betis [in 2005] when we needed to win, not in a game where we were qualified.

"To play knowing you have to win lets the player know we trust him. It was because of that trust that we brought him [Schwarzer] here. Petr knows he will play on Saturday again [against Crystal Palace], Mark also knows that but it was a good feeling for all of us." The big difference between Cudicini's selection back then and Schwarzer's on this occasion is that the former was involved midway through the group phase when there were still games left to rectify any mistake. While Chelsea had already reached the last 16 of the competition before last night, they still needed a victory to guarantee first place and the prize of avoiding Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid in Monday's draw. …

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