Chelsea beat Norwich 1-0 to strengthen top-four spot
Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City: Frank Lampard’s side beat relegated Norwich at Stamford Bridge to strengthen top-four spot for Champions League.
Frank Lampard had made no secret of his anger with his side’s performance in the 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United and making five changes for this match only exacerbated that, with Andreas Christensen, Mason Mount, and Tammy Abraham all dropping to the bench.
Lampard had reiterated his desire for his side to play at a quick tempo but the first quarter of an hour was anything but, with the Blues coach barking instructions to his side in the early moments.
His players appeared to get the message as Jorginho lofted the ball over the top and Ben Godfrey’s header landed into Olivier Giroud’s path, but he fired straight at Tim Krul in the Norwich goal.
Christian Pulisic, who had scored three goals and won two penalties since the restart, nearly added to his tally with an effort into the side netting from a tight angle.
Chelsea was beginning to go through the gears as Pulisic saw his effort on the swivel tipped over by Krul before Kurt Zouma headed with from the resulting corner.
Norwich had defended well and it looked as if they would get to half time with a clean sheet. But the hosts had other plans, with Pulisic delivering a pinpoint cross and Giroud outmuscled Timm Klose to head past Krul.
The relief was palpable amongst the players and the Chelsea bench, with new signing Hakim Ziyech watching from the stands.
With nothing to lose, Norwich showed more attacking intent in the second half and Antonio Rudiger deserved credit for making a crucial challenge on Onel Hernandez just as the Colombian looked poised to break through on goal.
The hosts were struggling to create anything to truly test Krul and even with no fans in the stadium, the tension was evident with such a narrow margin. That was until Giroud supplied Pulisic with a crafty lobbed pass and his volley was saved by Krul, and then Dutch stopper was on hand to deny Marcos Alonso a minute later.
Norwich sent on Buendia, Pukki, and Adam Idah in search of a leveler but Chelsea – despite a lacklustre second-half display – were rarely troubled as they claimed three crucial points to boost their hopes of finishing in the top four.