LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri said he hopes Alvaro Morata can "restart" his season after breaking his scoring duck in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Vidi in the Europa League.
Morata latched onto Willian's flick-on from an inviting Cesc Fabregas cross in the 70th minute to poke the winning goal beyond Tomas Tujvel, having missed a gilt-edged opportunity to break the deadlock when he sent a close-range dink wide in the first half.
Relief rather than joy was the Spaniard's reaction when the ball hit the back of the net, and TV cameras appeared to show him in tears as he was embraced by Willian.
It was only Morata's second goal of the season and his fifth in 32 appearances in all competitions in 2018, and Sarri hopes it will prove a turning point for a striker whose confidence has been notoriously fragile since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid for a then-club-record fee of £58 million in the summer of 2017.
"I'm really very happy for him," Sarri said of Morata, who declined to talk to reporters after the game. "It's very important for him to score. I think it's very important for him to play a very good match. He played a very good match.
"It's very important for him to play for the team, like this evening. I think Alvaro can restart from this performance.
"Alvaro has to think only about our match, only about the result, only about the [team]mates and not about the opponents. It's not important.
"He played very well, better than in the last period and so we can restart with this performance. Sometimes you can score, sometimes not, but the performance is important.
"For us he's a very important player. At the moment we have Alvaro and [Olivier] Giroud, but we have to play every three days for a long time, I think, I hope, and so he's a very important player for us, for our season -- both Alvaro and Olivier."
Asked about Morata's apparent tears, Sarri replied: "I don't know, but if after a goal he wants to cry, I hope to see him cry very often."
A second consecutive 1-0 victory in the Europa League has given Sarri the start to the competition that he wanted, even if profligate finishing against both PAOK and Vidi ensured that Chelsea had to work harder than anticipated.
"It has been very hard," Sarri admitted. "In the first half we had opportunities for scoring. We didn't do it and so the second half has been very hard. I think it was important three points.
"We have created a lot of goal opportunities but we have conceded two, three opportunities to the opponents and I think we have to do better in the defensive phase, in the positions under the line of the ball, to avoid the counter attacks of the opponents.
"This match we have changed eight players. In Greece I think only five. I hope we can do better [next] time."