Jump to content
Join Talk Chelsea and join in with the discussions! Click Here

Ruddy Hell! Keeper error costs Norwich


Recommended Posts

0,,10268~9934169,00.jpgChelsea 3-1 Norwich

Ramires and Juan Mata inspire Chelsea against resolute Norwich

Juan Mata scored on his Chelsea début as Andre Villas-Boas' side ultimately triumphed in a tense encounter with Premier League newcomers Norwich - but the game was overshadowed by a threatening head injury sustained by Didier Drogba.

After last weekend's come-from-behind showing against West Bromwich Albion, the air of anxiety that had descended upon Stamford Bridge in Andre Villas-Boas' first home game in charge of this Chelsea side once again loomed large over the West London outfit in this tight fixture. The Blues smuggled their way over the finish-line thanks to late goals from Frank Lampard and Juan Mata - the ten men of Norwich had battled valiantly, although ultimately in vain.

The greater class of the Londoners ultimately shone through, yet as storm clouds brewed above the stadium, an atmosphere of discontent was quickly seeping amongst the paying patrons. A lethargic first half performance had seen Chelsea take the foot off the gas after Jose Bosingwa fired them into the lead with a stunning raking effort from distance - and the Blues were lucky to enter the half-time interval on the end of a positive scoreline.

Grant Holt, the talismanic skipper of the Canaries, levelled matters up after the break after home goalkeeper Henrique Hilario had transformed himself from hero to villain with a disastrous blunder, allowing Holt the opportunity to hook goalwards with an improvised lob. That had not been the Norwich captain's first opportunity of the afternoon, and only splendid work by Hilario had kept the visitors at bay until that point - but their persistence and resilience was to be fully rewarded with the leveller.

There was to be no instantaneous improvement in Chelsea's fortunes as striker Didier Drogba was taken off on a stretcher after suffering an awful head injury in an aerial battle with the Norwich goalkeeper. Knocked out cold, Drogba - taken presumably to hospital - had endured a difficult afternoon against the organised, disciplined Canaries' defence, and he was not the only Chelsea attacker to be undone by the visitor's impressive rearguard, as both Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres both barely had a sniff.

Yet a topsy-turvy game turned on a sixpence when Nicolas Anelka and Mata joined the fray in the 67th minute. A switch in shape to a more orthodox 4-3-3 system looked to offer Chelsea some respite from the renewed confidence amongst the visiting players, and the Blues caught Paul Lambert's side out with a lethal counter-attack that had devastating consequences as Ramires was hacked down inside the area by goalkeeper Ruddy.

A red card was shown to the Norwich stopper and Frank Lampard duly scored past Declan Rudd, the second-choice keeper, from the resultant penalty kick - and, at long last, there was a massive collective sigh of relief shared between the new Chelsea gaffer and the Blues faithful inside Stamford Bridge.

With the visitors down to ten men, Chelsea looked to exploit the space between the Norwich defensive lines as their game plan fell to pieces. The marauding Ramires, buoyed by his role in winning the game-changing penalty, was playing the role of orchestrator-in-chief as he began to exert his dominance on the game, and an assured début performance for the inventive Mata was capped off with a clinically-taken goal in the eleventh minute of additional time as Chelsea added a layer of gloss to an unconvincing performance.

The final score does a massive disservice to the visitors. Backed by their magnificent away support, the Canaries had come so close to a fantastic resolute against Stoke last weekend only to be denied by a stoppage time leveller, and similar disappointment will be felt in a game where Paul Lambert's side deserved a share of the spoils. Their chances were plentiful as a pitifully poor defensive performance from Chelsea threatened to undermine any attacking intent from the home side, and Villas-Boas can be grateful that Henrique Hilario was in fine shot-stopping form; that one costly error aside.

A showing that was insipid and dour was livened only by the odd flash of creative genius prior to Mata's arrival, who ignited the match with an explosive combination of pace, trickery and skill. One such moment of brilliance came just six minutes in as Bosingwa hammered a shot into the top corner from fully 25 yards after collecting a Frank Lampard pass. With time and space afforded to him, the Portuguese full-back rocketed his shot beyond Ruddy's despairing dive for his first goal since November 2008.

Even prior to that moment, Ramires had produced a fine diving save out of the Norwich goalkeeper, as Chelsea looked rampant. Norwich, seemingly star-struck, were looking second-best by some distance, and their narrow midfield was doing little to contain Chelsea's flowing 4-1-2-1-2 set-up that saw both full-backs deployed high up-field, supplying the genuine width.

The tactical success of Villas-Boas' formation was paying rich dividends, and but for manful defending, Fernando Torres might have scored when he saw his effort blocked inside the box, whilst Drogba was lurking with menace in a slightly withdrawn role, though the Spaniard was to pose a peripheral figure for much of the match as his efforts were rewarded only with further frustration.

To his credit, Paul Lambert recognised this ploy early and his team adopted a more orthodox 4-4-2 about a quarter-of-an-hour in to the game. That led to an instant improvement from the Norwich side, and not only were Chelsea finding their probing attacks to be increasingly unsuccessful, but Villas-Boas' men were soon under the cosh defensively as the visitors chanced their arm.

A double-save from Hilario maintained the Blues' slender advantage - he first denied Chris Martin with a smart close-range block before back-peddling to tip over a venomous effort from Kyle Naughton, the young Canaries defender on loan from Tottenham. At the other end, a hat-trick of freekicks, all wide of the target, failed to test the Norwich goalkeeper, though Drogba's second effort did sail only fractionally over as it nestled on the roof of the target.

But for their hard work and in spite of the defensive steel on show, Norwich might have been out of it when Malouda had an opportunity from close range, but Ruddy made a moderately comfortable save with the Frenchman struggling to properly direct the shot as the game reached the half-way mark with Chelsea barely clinging on to a narrow advantage.

Chelsea really ought to have capitalised on the respite offered by the interval after an improved showing for the first ten minutes of the second period - though the half would soon mirror the first 45 minutes, as a spell of Chelsea dominance was soon over and Norwich had re-established a foothold in the game. A succession of corner kicks saw John Terry have one header cleared off the line whilst Branislav Ivanovic went down after having his shirt tugged, though no penalty was awarded. The Serb then headed wide a Lampard centre and with that missed opportunity went the advantage as Chelsea surrendered both the ascendancy and lead inside a matter of moments.

The momentum was well and truly with the visiting side, and they got the just rewards for their efforts when Holt hooked in a lobbed effort from the edge the area. The chance was borne out of a miscommunication between goalkeeper and centre-half as Hilario and Ivanovic went for the same ball, giving the Norwich captain the opportunity to bury the chance, which he duly did with aplomb.

Then came the moment that Chelsea's woes were compounded as Drogba was stretchered off. Having collided with Ruddy, Drogba had been knocked unconscious and the Chelsea medical team had worked furiously to restore the burly Ivorian to his senses. Unable to continue, he was replaced by Nicolas Anelka, and Juan Mata also came on for his début in place of Malouda, who had once more failed to conjure the same game-winning magic he was producing twelve months ago.

And it was Anelka who set the victory into motion when he galloped forward on the counter-charge, ably assisted by Ramires. Playing the Brazilian through, the Chelsea number 7 was hacked down by Ruddy as he attempted to round the goalkeeper - resulting in a spotkick which Lampard had no problem converting. Going straight down the middle as is the norm for Lampard penalties of late, the England star celebrated his first goal of the season in front of a jubilant Matthew Harding Stand.

Fellow Blues substitute Romelu Lukaku then sent a glancing header just wide of replacement goalkeeper Rudd's post, before Ivanovic had a golden opportunity to wrap it up, only to somehow contrive to miss the target from close range after Mata had sent Lampard away down the left. Thankfully, though that guilt-edged opportunity had been missed, the final say would be Chelsea's as the team entered eleven minutes of stoppage time.

That honour would go to Mata, who superbly fired the ball home with a cultured left-foot finish inside the box after Marc Tierney had sloppily conceded possession. The goal owed a lot to Bosingwa, who had forced the Norwich player into making a rushed pass back towards his own goal, and Mata did well to slide the ball home after seizing it on the edge of the box to wrap up a game that ebbed and flowed either way before class ultimately prevailed.

A two-week international break is to come with Chelsea having taken seven points from nine at the start of the new campaign - a start that offers much promise should things be worked upon, though this game will be remembered moreso for Mata's debut goal than a disappointing and at-times sub-par performance.

Chelsea (4-4-2): Hilario; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry ©, Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Malouda (Mata 67), Lampard; Torres (Lukaku 82), Drogba (Anelka 70)

Norwich City (5-3-2): Ruddy; Naughton, De Laet, Barnett, Whitbread (Pilkington 29), Tierney; Crofts, Hoolahan (Morison 60), Johnson; Martin (Rudd 80), Holt ©

The TalkChelsea.net 'Man of the Match' award goes to Chelsea's number 7 - RAMIRES

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the report was much better than the game .. the subs all did better than the players they replaced .. defence constantly caught out ..

sorry for Hilario ..up to his mistake he was one of the very few performing with credit

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:clap: Superb effort, Alex!

My ratings :

Hilario - 5

Bosingwa - 6.5

Ivanovic - 3

Terry - 5.5

Cole - 6

Mikel - 5

Ramires - 7

Lampard - 6

Malouda - 5

Drogba - 4

Torres - 4

Anelka - 6

Mata - 6.5

Lukaku - 6

That's too high a rating for cole. It was the worst game I've ever seen him play defensively. He never covered and left the whole defense exposed several times especially in the first half.

I agree with all the other ratings though. :goodpost:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...