Chelsea prevailed by two goals to one in a season-ending dead-rubber against already-relegated Cardiff City.
Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres replied Craig Bellamy’s opener late on into the game to cement the Blues’ third-place position.
And with both sides nothing to play for but pride, it was easy to see why Cardiff started the stronger. Buoyed on by their home support as they prepare for life in England’s second tier next season, they took the lead when Craig Bellamy’s shot took a wicked deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta’s back-side and wrong-footed Schwarzer.
It was lackadaisical Chelsea defending, who rested Terry and Lampard and gave Ashley Cole the armband in what is likely to be his last match for the Blues.
And with youngsters on the field in the likes of Kalas — Ake and Swift were to make their entrance later on in the game — it needed a big push for Chelsea to not end the season on a flat note.
Oscar was found beautifully by a long diagonal ball but his slow play saw Cardiff clear. Salah also had an opportunity when a headed clearance from a Chelsea corner-kick fell into his path. Indeed, Torres had an opportunity before Bellamy scored, but the stray pre-match balloons distracted the Spaniard and Caulker defended the open goal well.
Schurrle replacing Mikel with an hour gone was when the tide changed. Oscar sprayed a pass to an onrushing Azpilicueta and his header brought an oustanding save from Marshall. His follow-up cannoned off the bar before landing kindly at Schurrle’s feet, and the German hit the ball into the ground and looped over Marshall.
Three minutes later and Chelsea had their second. Schurrle again won the ball in the box and Torres slotted home from three yards out to turn the game around for Chelsea.
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Man of the Match
CESAR AZPILICUETA: Andre Schurrle deserves praise for changing the game when introduced with half an hour to go, but Azpilicueta had a fine 90-minute match, typical of his season. It was his run that created the havoc necessary for Schurrle to score his goal, and the Spaniard played his part in Torres’ goal too. His natural position, right-back, must seem a distant memory now having played on the left-side for so long but he was at his attacking best. 8/10
Mourinho was satisfied to end on a positive note: “We deserved it, we played well, especially for an end-of-season game, when a team is playing for nothing apart from pride and evolution. We created chances, we had all the play. We know we finished third but the feeling is good. The team played well. Next season we have to start trying to be stronger than we were this season.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was upbeat despite coming 20th in the table: “There has been loads of positives… when we stick together we’re hard to beat. What we’ve struggled with sometimes this year is the quality to come back in games we’ve had to chase games and that’s something we have to look at next year.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had three years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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