Sunday, August 28, 2011



Chelsea made it consecutive home victories after a troublesome afternoon against the newly-promoted Norwich City. We were in front after just five minutes when Jose Bosingwa netted a stunning drive from around 30 yards, and looked well in control before Norwich got back into the game, forcing Hilario into a string of saves. The Portuguese was eventually beaten after a mix-up with recalled defender Branislav Ivanovic, allowing Grant Holt to level the scores on the hour, but Chelsea's resilience came through once more when a Frank Lampard penalty nine minutes from time earned the three points after Ramires had been brought down by red-carded goalkeeper John Ruddy. Injury to Didier Drogba meant there was 11 minutes of added time, at the end of which substitute Juan Mata opened his Chelsea account, slotting low into the bottom corner after Norwich had gifted him possession inside the area. Romelu Lukaku also came off the bench for his Chelsea debut. BEST MOMENT No doubt it was Bosingwa's opener just five minutes in. The full-back's first goal since November 2008, it gave the goalkeeper no chance and absolutely rocketed into the net. TEAM NEWS Andre Villas-Boas paired Fernando Torres and Drogba together from the start for the first time this season in an apparent change of shape. Florent Malouda was recalled after his winner against West Brom last week, and slotted in on the left of a diamond midfield. In defence, Branislav Ivanovic was picked ahead of Alex, who he replaced during last week's narrow victory. Norwich had Leon Barnett available after suspension, while Wes Hoolahan had shrugged off a hamstring problem to play. FIRST HALF It took less than two minutes for Chelsea to call Ruddy into action, Ramires letting go with a dipping 25-yarder that forced the goalkeeper to concede a corner with a decent save. It was a warning for the Canaries, who had allowed the midfielder space, but they did not learn their lesson and after five minutes the Blues were in front from an almost identical position. Bosingwa strode forward and invited to shoot, cracked an unstoppable drive into Ruddy's top-right corner. An early contender for Goal of the Season that will take some beating, it was an early reward for Chelsea's initial dominance, which also saw Torres and Drogba almost combine for another goal, and the Spaniard have a shot on the turn blocked by a defender. The goal had severely damaged Norwich's game plan, with five defenders and a narrow midfield they had been looking to contain the Blues, but had only served to allow our full-backs, Bosingwa and Ashley Cole, free reign to attack, and additionally Torres and Drogba were linking up well against three centre-backs. They regrouped though, and proceeded to create some impressive openings. Captain Grant Holt had held the ball up well in the corner before attempting to latch onto Hoolahan's lofted ball from deep. Beating the offside trap, he had time to bring the ball down inside the area but went for the first-time finish and failed to connect, Hilario falling on the loose ball. The Chelsea goalkeeper had to be on top form before the half-hour though, first denying Chris Martin one-on-one with a low save from close range, then back pedalling to his goal-line to tip over a vicious Kyle Naughton drive destined for the net and finally to keep out a well directed Holt header low to his left. A Hoolahan shot from distance proved rather easier, but it showed a worrying stat that the visitors had now had five shots on target to Chelsea's two. They were more than holding their own having replaced Zak Whitbread with Anthony Pilkington and moved to a 4-4-2. There was respite for Chelsea five minutes before the break when Drogba was clumsily tripped by Crofts. The Ivorian brushed himself off to take the free-kick, shooting inches over the bar with Ruddy seemingly beaten. Then John Terry fouled Holt at the other end, allowing Bradley Johnson a venomous shot at goal which Hilario was grateful to see come straight at him. Florent Malouda fizzed a half-volley low into Ruddy's arms shortly afterwards, and that was the final event of a lively first half. SECOND HALF It was Chelsea who started on top once more, a John Terry header from a Malouda corner flicked over his own crossbar by a Norwich defender and then Ivanovic nodded another wide from a Lampard centre. They were chances Chelsea could rue, and sure enough we were punished just after the hour mark. Norwich had consistently been playing long balls towards the head of man-mountain Holt, and for the most part he had been well looked after by Terry and Ivanovic. On this occasion, a hopeful ball came into the area and both Hilario and Ivanovic went for the ball, leaving it to bounce nicely for Holt who could volley into an empty net over his shoulder. On the balance of play Norwich had deserved it, but in this second half it was the first time they had had the ball inside the Chelsea box. Moments later things got worse as Drogba collided with Ruddy and fell heavily to the ground, requiring lengthy treatment after a wince-inducing landing. The 33-year-old required a stretcher to leave the field. He could not continue and was replaced by Anelka. Malouda came off too, replaced by debutant Mata. Chelsea went 4-3-3 with the subs either side of Torres. Norwich could have gone in front soon afterwards when Morison broke clear into the area, but Terry recovered his ground well to block. At the other end Mata introduced himself with a neat sidestep and bending cross for Torres, the forward's header ending up in Ruddy's arms as time just began to tick away, as it was doing a week earlier against West Brom at this stage. Then Norwich won a corner, Chelsea hacked it clear and Anelka could break. It looked like he may have to go it alone but then from nowhere came Ramires on the blindside, galloping through and taking the pass in his stride. The Brazilian attempted to take the ball past the goalkeeper, succeeded, but was then brought down by Ruddy's flailing arms. Penalty. Red card said Mike Jones. Lampard stepped up in front of the Matthew Harding End, and hammered his spot kick straight down the middle and past substitute goalkeeper Declan Rudd. Villas-Boas brought on Lukaku for Torres as he looked to consolidate. It seems we have another Drogba on our hands, quick, strong and incredibly difficult to take the ball from. Just like West Brom a week ago, Norwich had a late chance to get back into it, a free-kick running all the way across the box to Morison, the forward mis-hitting his cross-cum-shot over the bar as Holt waited at the far post to tap home. Lukaku sent a glancing header wide before Ivanovic had a golden opportunity to wrap it up. Mata had sent Lampard away down the left and the midfielder crossed perfectly for the Serbian, only for him to somehow miss the target from mere feet away. Still, with an extra man and back in control, Chelsea looked to have the three points sewn up. Then came the signal for 11 added minutes, and a little more tension around a rainy Stamford Bridge. Norwich weren't threatening though, and with one minute left, Mata wrapped it up. Marc Tierney's ball inside from the left-back position was pounced upon by the little Spaniard, who took his time and slotted home into the bottom corner to secure a three points and a memorable cameo. It is international break time now, and the Blues return on September 10 with a trip to Sunderland. Chelsea (4-4-2 diamond): Hilario; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Malouda (Mata 67), Lampard; Torres (Lukaku 82), Drogba (Anelka 70) Unused subs Turnbull, Ferreira, Alex, McEachran Goals Bosingwa 5, Lampard (pen) 81, Mata 90+10 Booked Bosingwa 35, Torres 55 Norwich City (5-3-2):Ruddy; Naughton, De Laet, Barnett, Whitbread (Pilkington 29), Tierney; Crofts, Hoolahan (Morison 60), Johnson; Martin (Rudd 80), Holt (c) Unused subs Rudd, R Martin, Jackson, Fox, Bennett Goals Holt 62 Booked Crofts 40, Naughton 57 Sent off Ruddy 79 Attendance 41,765

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