Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has claimed he dropped Eden Hazard to the bench for their Europa League semi-final first leg draw at Eintracht Frankfurt to keep the Belgian fresh.
The Blues looked in trouble when Luka Jovic put the Bundesliga side ahead, before Pedro equalised on the stroke of half time following good work from Ruben Loftus-Cheek - giving Sarri's side a vital away goal.
Hazard was brought on with half an hour to go with a much-improved Chelsea pushing for a winner, but they ultimately had to settle for a 1-1 draw, despite Frankfurt looking out on their feet by the end.
"For a player that has 70 matches in a season, starting him from the bench is a normal reaction," Sarri said in his post-match press conference, as quoted by BBC Sport, adding:
The 28-year-old winger has only started twice for Chelsea in the Europa League this season, but also been the subject of intense speculation regarding a potential transfer to Real Madrid.
The Italian did not inform his talisman that he would not be starting at the Commerzbank Arena.
"He is a player, so I have to do it otherwise I have to speak to everyone. He was a normal way, joking as usual. He knows the truth very well."
"We have to play five matches in two weeks with the same importance. We don't know yet which is the right way. We want both, the Champions League and the Europa League win.
"This time we don't want to just play the final, we want to win it."
Source : 90min