Chelsea produced late drama as Willian’s superb effort with one minute left on the clock preserved the Blues’ seven-point lead at the top of the table.
The hosts, who had been matched by the visitors in every sense, were struggling to find a break-through, despite dominating large parts of the game. Howard and Cech were particularly on top of their game, and it required a belter from Willian in the 89th minute to settle things.
It was a frentic first half, with Chelsea firmly in the ascendancy. The Blues recorded 11 shots in the first 45 minutes and really ought to have at least put away one, though the level of dominance would have pleased the manager.
Remy came close with a header, drawing out a top save from Howard, before Cuadrado, on his first Chelsea start, unleashed a shot just wide from a tight angle. Willian was equally enjoying his outing as Chelsea’s centre man, with Oscar injured, and fizzed a delicious curling shot just wide.
Hazard too had his sublime moments, drawing fouls, free-kicks and cards out of Everton players, but he also has a tremendous eye for goal and his left-footed shot nearly found a way past Howard. Moments before, he was an inch away from connecting with Azpilicueta’s delightful lofted ball.
It was pretty much all Chelsea but Everton always have strength through Lukaku and pace with Lennon. The former was nearly back to haunt his old club, nearly wrong-footing Cech who made the most unconventional of saves, but a save none-the-less.
The second half would build on the fast-paced intensity of the match. Lukaku has the best chance from two yards but Cech’s pure instinct stopped it being a certain goal. It was a superb stop.
Chelsea flung bodies forward, with Ivanovic readily being a secondary striker. Drogba came on to add a little presence as the flair was not working. Corners were wasted as neither Cuadrado or Fabregas could deliver the correct ball.
A flurry of chances came Chelsea’s way in the last five minutes. Matic thought he had scored but his volley brushed Ivanovic’s ear, who was offside. The Serbian duo were to be left disappointed as the goal was ruled out.
Tensions rose and Barry received his marching orders with a second yellow card, as eight cards were shown in the game.
But then came the 89th minute. Howard did well to punch away a corner, but the ball fell invitingly to Willian from 25 yards. If you want anyone to unleash one from there, it would be Willian. The Brazilian delivered.
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Man of the Match
PETR CECH: When Big Pete’s happy, we’re happy. Never hidden my love for the giant and tonight proves it. Not rusted one bit sitting on the bench, with his catching, throws and, most importantly tonight, his reflexes still on point. Two huge saves to deny Lukaku, both with his left leg. The first was a good reaction; the second was pure instinct. There was no time to react; he made a calculated guess, and with all his experience, he guessed right. You can understand why Mourinho made special effort to find him at the end. 9/10
Mourinho was happy to see his side cross the line: “We are very very happy and we think we deserve it. We fought so hard to try and win the game. We risked a lot to try to win. Everton defended really well and made lots of intelligent fouls.”
Martinez was left to rue it was Big Pete in goal: “We were in control. We had clear-cut chances, the best ones of the game – they needed world-class saves from Petr Cech. It’s a shame we couldn’t convert the chances.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four 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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