Chelsea v Norwich City at Stamford Bridge

 

Chelsea 3 Norwich City 1 Crowd 41, 795 at Stamford Bridge

A promising start by Chelsea against Norwich City was quickly thwarted by the Canaries.

The signs of a crushing defeat at the hands of Chelsea were obvious in the opening minutes when Ramirez pulled the trigger just outside the penalty box but was saved by the Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Chelsea are marching menacingly forward.

In the 5th minute a rocket launched by Jose Bosingwa 30 metres out cruised past the Norwich keeper to find itself lodged into the back of the net.

Chelsea appeared to be heading for a high scoring match at the expense of their newly promoted rivals Norwich City expense. But it wasn’t to be.

Norwich hounded and made the likes of Torres and Drogba uncomfortable with numerous attempts by the two king pins diffused by Norwich’s keen defensive efforts. Drogba in particular seemed to have multiple chances in setting up his Spanish partner, only to appear haphazard in his demeanor, which resulted in loss of possession and passes that would not find their mark.

Drogba toyed with the Norwich defense but they had the last laugh as the Ivory Coast’s favourite sons’ attack lacked commitment, intensity and vision.

With Chelsea’s chances coming to naught, it was Norwich who increased the intensity of the match. A goal almost coming from a beautifully constructed play by midfielder Wesley Hoolahan who slipped a pass into the 6 yard box for his captain Grant Holt who thrust his leg out in an attempt to push the ball into the net. The ball skidding into the arms of Hilario.

Norwich continued to build momentum. In the 27th minute Chris Martin’s shot was on target but denied by Hilario. The ball then made its way to Tottenham Hotspur loan player Kyle Naughton whose shot was on target only to be thrust over the crossbar by Hilario.

In contrast Chelsea wasn’t capitalising on chances when they came. One could forgive a team rising from the Coca-Cola Championships not to score, however the same can’t be said for the former Premier League Champions.

With two free kicks from Didier Drogba not finding their mark, one finding its way in the upper stands behind the goal, the other from Frank Lampard equally dismissive. Chelsea made a heavy day’s work for themselves when it could have been the lightest. The score at half time 1-1.

The second half began the way Chelsea finished the first. Slowly.

Lack of cohesion from The Blues meant that Norwich, who were constantly throwing attacking prowess at the Chelsea defense, came up with a play fittingly scored by their captain in the 62nd minute. Confusion between Ivanovic and goalkeeper Hilario, saw the ever reliable captain Grant Holt positioned perfectly for the wayward ball. A reflexive movement saw him kick the ball over his head and into the back of the net. Chelsea 1 Norwich 1.

A minute later and drama unfolded at the Bridge. A lovely pass by Fernando Torres to Didier Drogba who ran through to head the ball into the goal was knocked unconscious by the Norwich keeper.

It was a sickening sight as the replay showed Drogba flying through the air to latch onto the ball with his head, when John Ruddy met him to the challenge with hands clenched to strike at the ball.

He missed and hit Drogba flush on the face. Drogba appeared to be knocked senseless while in the air, and landed on the ground head first.

After a six minute break that saw the stretcher come out and take Drogba away, the action began. Replacements were made with Anelka coming on for Drogba and new Valencia recruit Juan Mata replacing Florent Malouda.

It didn’t take long for Mata to make his mark. His first two touches produced excellent touches. the first an exquisite ball into the six yard box that found Torres’ head only to be saved by Ruddy. Then moments later on the left flank, Mata  delivered deft touches to his compatriot once again.

In the 79th minute more drama unfolded. A late challenge on Chelsea midfielder Ramirez by Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, forced referee Mike Jones to dip into his pocket and produce the red card. A harsh response from the referee who may have been caught in the emotion of the Drogba incident. A yellow card and penalty would have sufficed. Lampard stepped up for the penalty kick and easily placed it past replacement keeper Declan Rudd.

But even with Norwich down to ten men, Chelsea still did not capitalise on their opportunities.

In the 89th minute a sitter from Lampard to Ivanovic who steered a header past the right side of the post. The chance to go 3-1 up went begging, literally. Ivanovic clasping at his head on his knees in disbelief.

But as fate would have it, the Drogba incident played a starring role. Or if you are Juan Mata, the opportunity to shine arose in an unfortunate way.

With eleven minutes to play in extra time, the new recruit showed his class. A mistake by De Laet whose misdirected pass back to Pilkington close to their goal on the right, was swooped upon by Mata who ran into the penalty area and skillfully placed the ball past the keeper at an acute angle to score for his new side.

Even with a couple of minutes remaining, the game was over. Mata ended the match the way he started. With promise.

Norwich can take confidence from that match. They showed plenty of character in the absence of their keeper in the final ten minutes. For Chelsea salvaging a win was needed, as much as it was unconvincing. They still have alot of work to do, specially with their combinations up front. But the positive signs are there. Just ask Mata.

 

 

 

 

 

About Basil Naimet

I mostly follow two sports: The NRL in Australia and the Premier League in England.

I’m taking a fancy to the Coca Cola championships in England too.

Education: BA (UNSW) currently undertaking a Master of Journalism and Communication (UNSW).

Im a bit of a fitness man as well.( I like to exersize regularly)

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