Chelsea serve fans a seven-goal thriller in 4-3 homecoming victory against Watford

Match Summary

Chelsea made hard work, but ultimately gave their fans an entertaining match, of their first match back at Stamford Bridge since being crowned champions with a 4-3 win against Watford.

With Conte making nine changes since clinching the trophy just 72 hours prior, John Terry was restored to the line-up and made himself hero and villain inside 25 minutes, scoring the game’s first before gifting Capoue an equaliser moments later.

Azpilicueta and Batshuayi put daylight between the two sides but Jaanmart and Okaka had other ideas, before the seven-goal thriller was settled by Fabregas coming off the bench.

Whilst in other circumstances Conte will be disappointed Watford scored from all their shots on target, it proved to be a good run-out for his fringe men as his side equalled the league record of 29 victories in a season, set by the Blues themselves in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

And with Sunderland to go at home on Sunday, there is every chance the Italian could go one better than Mourinho’s run and secure 30 wins.

The hosts were the division’s highest scorers going into the game with 76 goals, but even the most die-hard of Chelsea fans would not have expected this seven-goal spectacular, especially when noting the starting line-up omitted the likes of Costa and Pedro.

However the tone was set within three minutes by Willian, who was through on goal but cynically brought down to warrant the first yellow card on a busy evening for Lee Mason.

Whilst nothing came of that, great skill at Chelsea’s next attack between Batshuayi and Hazard could have yielded a goal but Hazard could not find the finish when he cut inside.

Batshuayi was then through on goal and his swivel and shot brought the corner from which Chelsea did break the deadlock. Willian’s outswinger was met, at the second attempt, by a flailing John Terry leg to score his first goal for Antonio Conte.

It was a romantic, if scrappy, goal, but the script-writer could not have timed it more perfectly for the Chelsea stalwart who is set the leave the club at the end of the season, for it was the 100th goal of Chelsea’s season, and 1,000th since Roman Abramovich took over, an era John Terry has been the lynchpin of.

Whilst the goal meant the Chelsea captain has now netted in each of his past 17 top-flight campaigns, he would undo the headlines, at least partially, by a momentary lapse in concentration which followed seconds later. A mix-up between Chalobah and himself when clearing the ball saw Terry head the ball too short back to Begovic and Capoue pounced to score just their second goal in 10 hours of action. Not so romantic after all.

Kante was clearly learning from Fabregas on the training field with a sublime Fabregas-esque  80 yard pass to Hazard, whose first touch let him down before Gomes smothered. The Belgian then was fed another delicious 80 yard ball by Willian, cutting inside but dragging wide of the near post.

Kenedy was seeking to establish himself in Conte’s plans for next season and whilst his shot was cleared by Gomes for a corner, it was from this set-piece Chelsea got their noses in front again. The ball fell kindly to Azpilicueta on the edge of the box and the Chelsea defender picked his spot and hammered it past Gomes from 20 yards for his first Premier League goal since January 2016.

The cushion became two early in the second half when Willian’s left-wing strike brought a good save from Gomes when it was destined to curl in, and from the corner Kenedy was urged to shoot. Whilst he did, he slipped and the stray shot found Ake who was deemed onside and the youngster unselfishly squared to Friday’s hero Batshuayi to tap in.

But Chelsea were clearly in party mode as once again Watford levelled within two minutes, with Jaanmart getting on the scoresheet after cutting in from the left.

Consistent Chelsea passages of play could not yet draw out the fourth goal but the hosts were probing. Hazard and Batshuayi got closest but Gomes saved with his feet from 5 yards, whilst Azpilicueta looked to grab his brace from 20 yards again but Gomes blocked this time.

Batshuayi nearly found Hazard racing clean through but for a last-ditch interception — it would have been a devastating counter attack — but Watford were in the mood to spoil a party when Okaka was introduced. Moments after coming on, the man who has played for Italy under Conte, scored against his former national team manager, latching onto a loose ball from a clever Cleverley dinked ball which none of the Chelsea back-three could deal with.

Conte introduced Aina and Fabregas in response and the latter magic man produced the goods once again, striking perfectly from the edge of the box as the game had one more goal in it.

Prodl got his marching orders in injury time for a second bookable offence, but the confetti came out soon after and the Chelsea fans could properly get into the party mood.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

———————————————————–————————————————————

Man of the Match

JOHN TERRY: I had to. Whilst he did play a big part in Capoue’s equaliser, the Chelsea captain has been a true stalwart and, in his penultimate ever Chelsea game, it was beautiful to see him roll back the years with a Terry-esque goal to break the deadlock. So scrappy but it sums up the Chelsea captain to throw his head at the ball and then be the first on the end of the loose ball to help his team out. A wonderful story. 7/10

———————————————————–————————————————————

Manager Reaction

Conte knew the important task had been achieved: “We conceded three goals but we scored four and created many chances. The most important thing was we won. Now we have target to win 30 games. The most important thing was to win the league. Then if we have the possibility to improve these records, we must try. We can reach this target. The players and I want to reach this target.”

Mazzarri enjoyed the spectacle: “I am very proud of my team. We had several players out injured. Congratulations to Antonio Conte because he is a great manager. They have great players. They deserve the title.”

———————————————————–————————————————————

Fan View

———————————————————–————————————————————

Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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.

———————————————————–————————————————————

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea need extra-time to overcome Leicester in tense cup tie

Match Summary

Chelsea came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 thanks to two goals from super-sub Cesc Fabregas in extra-time of an entertaining EFL Cup tie.

Last season’s champions raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to Okazaki’s brace, but the champions of 2015 showed their quality eventually, with Cahill, Azpilicueta and the two from Fabregas enough to see Chelsea progress at the expense of Leicester.

The victory will please Conte after the weekend’s loss to Liverpool, and their reward is an away trip to West Ham for the EFL Cup Fourth Round, though the defensive frailties are still a concern despite the deadline signing of David Luiz.

Embed from Getty Images

Things would have been far more routine for Chelsea had Pedro not been in an offside position prior to slotting the ball in the net after just five minutes, or if Alonso’s cross was marginally closer to the onrushing Batshuayi.

But Chelsea never do things the easy way and mistakes would cost the Blues an early deficit once again. Alonso was dispossessed but none of his back-line covered themselves in glory, and despite Cahill’s efforts to clear Okazaki’s goalbound header off the line, referee Robert Madley had already signalled for a goal.

Batshuayi had a headed opportunity himself mid-way through the first half which was not taken, whilst Loftus-Cheek was enjoying the free attacking role normally afforded to Oscar.

But if coming back to win from a 1-0 deficit was hard enough, it would get all the more harder when Okazaki tucked home his second of the game after more Chelsea mistakes.

Gary Cahill restored some order with a crucial goal just before the stroke of half-time, with the Englishman heading home a Chelsea lifeline from a Fabregas corner.

The deficit was all but wiped out within four minutes of the restart. Azpilicueta was given space to pick his spot and Zieler could only watch as the Spaniard’s right-foot shot fizzed past him and into the Leicester goal.

Conte was keen for the match to be won in the remaining 40 minutes so brought on Costa alongside Batshuayi, and both had chances on Zieler’s goal, the latter turning and shooting before the former introduced himself to the game with a narrow miss.

Begovic still had to be alert to the threats posed by Gray and King, and now Jamie Vardy, who Ranieri introduced with a quarter of an hour to go.

Disaster struck for the hosts when, in a match with some petty and cynical fouls, Wasilewski saw his second yellow in the 89th minute after fouls on first Loftus-Cheek and now Costa.

The one-man advantage was not to be capitalised on in the remainder of normal time, but would be seized upon by Fabregas early in extra-time.

The Spaniard, very much a bit-part player under Conte, made his mark as he latched onto the back of a Hazard backpass to rifle home Chelsea’s third.

It was the first time the Blues were leading and the lead became insurmountable just two minutes later with Fabregas’ second, shooting high into Zieler’s net in a crowded penalty area to seal Chelsea’s spot in the Fourth Round draw.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

———————————————————–————————————————————

Man of the Match

cesc-fabregas-thumbnailCESC FABREGAS: The Spaniard has had a difficult time persuading Conte he deserves a starting spot, but on this evidence must be more in the Italian’s plans. The Spaniard was creative and dynamic and brought about the victory with his brace in extra-time, but he surely offers something more than Matic in that holding role with his vision for a pass or ability in front of goal? 8/10

———————————————————–————————————————————

Manager Reaction

Conte singled out Fabregas for praise: “It’s important when I call someone to play and they show me my choice is not wrong. I am pleased for Cesc because he played a good game, he showed me great commitment in the training sessions. I am satisfied when I see this behaviour.”

Ranieri rued lapses in concentration: “I am happy with our performance until 2-0. We started very well and we were in control of the match. The key was when we conceded a goal on the last corner of the half — we lost two dangerous men, Luiz and Cahill.”

———————————————————–————————————————————

Fan View

———————————————————–————————————————————

Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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.

———————————————————–————————————————————

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea left frustrated after 2-2 draw against West Brom

Match Summary

Chelsea were booed off the pitch after another dismal showing by the Blues in front of their home fans.

Cesar Azpilicueta opened the scoring but Craig Gardner replied in the first half, but it looked like McAuley’s own goal would seal Chelsea the points and continue this mini-revival under Guus Hiddink.

Instead, more sloppy play from players who continue to lack the drive to see out matches saw McLean score a late equaliser as more points continue to be dropped and Chelsea can still not record back-to-back league victories, such as been their inconsistency.

It means Chelsea are still in 14th position and 12 points off the Champions League places, with tricky ties to Everton and Arsenal coming up.

Embed from Getty Images

It really should not have been that hard. Costa set the motion running with early shots, as too did Willian as Chelsea looked to get going.

That effort was rewarded with 20 minutes on the clock with an excellent flowing goal. Fabregas played a long ball to Costa, who held up well and teed up Willian. His pass out wide to Ivanovic freed up space and the Serbian delivered one of his better balls whipped in across the penalty area. Diego Costa missed the return but following up close behind was Cesar Azpilicueta to tap in.

But when can Chelsea ever hold onto leads? Just 13 minutes later and West Brom were back in it. Pedro was shoved off the ball and Gardner drilled a shot from 25 yards.

The Spaniard would be hooked off at half-time for Kenedy, with the youngster eager to impress as much as Loftus-Cheek did in weekend’s outing against Scunthorpe.

One man who should not have been on the field of play was Claudio Yacob. The midfielder was cautioned in the first half for tripping Willian and he should have received his marching orders after tripping Costa when in a good counter-attacking position.

Still, it beggars belief that Chelsea literally need to hope for a one-man advantage to have any hope of winning. Kenedy looked to set that right when he drifted in an advanced position and when Willian crossed in, Kenedy put sufficient pressure on McAuley for the defender to inadvertently divert the ball into his own net past Myhill.

Could Chelsea hold on? Of course not, and it was a lead lasting only 13 minutes again, this time McClean drilling in a shot past Courtois from 20 yards.

The boos rang round and the chants for Mourinho returned in full view of Roman Abramovich.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

———————————————————–————————————————————

Man of the Match

willian.thumbnailWILLIAN: Chelsea’s only hope, it seems. The Brazilian put in another excellent shift and put in 10 crosses in the box, one of which gave Chelsea their second. His constant energy and quick turn of pace gives Chelsea their best chance of scoring something, plus he does have a tremendous shot on him even if he did waste a free-kick opportunity late in the game. 7/10

———————————————————–————————————————————

Manager Reaction

Hiddink was fair in his appraisal: “The unbeaten run goes on but we would have preferred the win. West Brom always bounce back, there is great character. It was an intense game. Tony Pulis made a wise decision when he took over the role of the referee and took off Claudio Yacob. The referee forgot to do it.”

Pulis also appreciated the challenge Chelsea presented: “We are pleased. It was a tough game, you have to ride your luck and work hard and we did that. We were disappointed with one or two of our players because they got wound up and kept the crowd going. You have to be sensible and you have to play with your head.”

———————————————————–————————————————————

Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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.

———————————————————–————————————————————

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Chelsea

Match Summary

Chelsea got their campaign up and running with a hard-fought 3-2 win against West Brom at a rainy Hawthorns.

The Blues, who have not made as slow a start to a season since the 1998/1999 season, looked in control through Pedro and Costa, but two Morrison goals either side of a Chelsea third meant there was much drama and nerves for Mourinho’s 300th game in charge of Chelsea, especially as Terry was sent off after 54 minutes.

Embed from Getty Images

It has been a frantic week at Chelsea after a slow start to the campaign and an unwelcome debacle regarding ‘medic-gate’, but there is always method to Mourinho’s ways and whilst the arrival fo Rahman and Pedro smacks of panic buying, Mourinho has got his own way again. With Stones likely to join, Chelsea look ambitious again after a summer of resting on their laurels.

There is certainly a space for new arrivals in the team, with Pedro arriving on Thursday and starting on Sunday for his Chelsea and Premier League debut, whilst Cahill dropped to the bench in favour of Zouma and, maybe in the future, for Stones. Oscar, Ramires and Cuadrado were all absent after speculation one or more of the trio may depart to Juventus as the Blues look to recruit Pogba.

Would these quick-fire additions spring Chelsea into life? Pedro certainly showed the way, at a ground where Chelsea have lost three of the last four visits here.

It was a busy match from the off. Courtois punched from a cross which McLean nearly reached, whilst at the other end, Costa dragged a shot wide after escaping the defenders.

Morrison was in the thick of the action all game and nearly found Rondon’s outstretched leg from a cross. He had his own chance to score from a penalty just a minute later but Courtois’ leg saved the day. Chris Brunt, whom Morrison displaced from penalty taking duties for this one, would certainly have a stern work.

Then came Chelsea. Pedro and Hazard initiated a one-two and the former Barcelona man bundled the ball into the net past Myhill.

One became two, all from a West Brom corner. Willian counter, Pedro went for goal but Costa was in the right place at the right time to divert the off-target shot, to open his account for the season.

Cruise control only lasted six minutes as a Fabregas stray pass presented West Brom with possession, and when Ivanovic was caught, a long pass found Rondon, who got a foot to divert it to Morrison who made amends by rifling home.

Willian should have scored before the whistle blew as great build-up play by Pedro teed up the Brazilian, but he was far too casual and slotted wide the golden opportunity.

Azpilicueta made no mistake soon after though. Costa was pulled down as he tried to chest the ball for his own control, but kudos for Azpilicueta for reacting quickest to surprise everyone with his first Premier League goal.

Then came the big moment. Brunt’s pass found Rondon, who was dragged down by Terry. Fortunately for the captain it was outside the box, but it still warranted a red card.

3-1 became 3-2 very quickly after the sending off when Morrison directed a superb header past Courtois and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Lambert came on to push Chelsea and his partner Rondon, who had a great game, should have levelled from the edge of the box.

The physios on to treat Ivanovic soon after and there were cheers again as Chelsea were down to nine men again, a la in the Swansea game. Will the new pairing be sacked for next week?

McManaman curled wide and Costa skied high as Falcao and Mikel entered the fray of a busy game. Hazard dragged a shot wide, Falcao was slow to sort his feet out and Rondon’s shot needed a smothering from Courtois as the action was frantic right up until the full-time whistle, but when it did blow the relief from Mourinho was there for all to see.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

———————————————————–————————————————————

Man of the Match

pedro.thumbnailPEDRO: Superb debut. Chelsea needed an injection of an x-factor after a sluggish start but Pedro ticked all the boxes, scoring after 20 minute and assisting another. It was all about the three points today and you need players like Pedro to spark a side into life. Hazard and Costa too deserve mentions, as the stinkers for the week were Ivanovic and Fabregas. 8/10

———————————————————–————————————————————

Manager Reaction

Mourinho was at his cryptic best: “I know many people are disappointed with this result — people love Chelsea to lose again. I’m so happy the players got what they deserve. Four points in three matches is not enough. The feeling is we are fighting against a lot. But today we won.”

Pulis was still finding the best way to bring his side forward: “We haven’t found the right balance yet between being comfortable and strong defensively, and still having that flair to go forward and score goals. Hopefully we’ll bring one or two more players in.”

———————————————————–————————————————————

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.

———————————————————–————————————————————

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea (5-6 pens)

Chelsea needed over-time to beat Paris Saint-Germain, in what was a small piece of consolation after last season’s Champions League exit at the hands of the French side.

Embed from Getty Images

The Blues, pointless after the drubbing to New York Red Bulls, assured victory with Courtois’ penalty kick, the 14th of the shoot-out. This followed his save just seconds earlier from a Silva penalty kick, after Cuadrado and Bahebeck missed one for each side earlier in the shoot-out.

Penalties were called on after both sides failed to be separated after the normal 90 minutes. Ibrahimovic was in the right place at the right time to tap in after an initial Paris Saint-Germain shot had hit the post, with Begovic well beaten to concede his fifth goal in just his first two Chelsea games.

Victor Moses, another new face if only a returnee, replied in stylish fashion, latching onto Fabregas’ excellently lobbed to guide the ball home.

———————————————————–————————————————————

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.

———————————————————–————————————————————

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Post-Season Friendlies

Chelsea embarked on a post-season trip across the pond to cap off another remarkably unpredictable season. The visit to the US 10 months ago was the start of a new Chelsea era who were in the reckoning for seven trophies. In the end, the Blues managed to secure one they were never registered for during the last visit, but it was warmly paraded and welcomed by the strong US fanbase.

Chelsea 3-4 Manchester City (Fri 24 May, 01:30 BST)

It was Rafa Benitez’s farewell tour, having left the day-to-day London offices and a chance to enjoy America and before the interim first-team manager departs, he was determined to play some youth. With tired legs after an arduous 69-game season, the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christensen were given starts, whilst Nathan Ake and Jamal Blackman were to come off the bench.

The Blues’ youthful look was matched with some experienced heads, and it was Ba’s head from which the first goal came. Juan Mata swung in the assist, with the Senegalese striker jumping ahead of Joe Hart.

Azpilicueta buried his penalty as the Spaniard was enjoying the freedom as the evening’s right-winger to record his first Chelsea goal. It was, again, Juan Mata in the thick of the action, causing Rekik to push his over inside the box.

Two became three nine minutes after the restart. Rekik was caught daydreaming and when Ramires pinched the ball, his compatriot Oscar set off and rounded Wright for the game’s third.

With the game seemingly safe, Blackman replaced Cech, but the young goalkeeper’s first action was to pick the ball out of the net twenty seconds after coming on. Javi Garcia struck firm and low.

Milner fed a delightful through-ball to Dzeko three minutes later as the Bosnian, who was a half-time substitute for Aguero, prodded home.

Blackman stood firm in the face of a thrilling City comeback, but Dzeko grabbed his second with a first-time side-foot, before Tevez and Richards combined for the crushing winner in the 91st minute.

Chelsea 3-5 Manchester City (Sat 25 May, 22:30 BST)

After the seven-goal thriller served up in Saint Louis, an eight-goal feast was on the menu for the expectant New York crowd. In part two between ‘Chelsea and Manchester City: Stateside’, it was once again the team in lighter blue coming out as the victors.

Chelsea had started so brightly played 45 hours before, but in a change of environment and with Brian Kidd adamant his side would not concede three without reply like in New York, it was City who started brighter, and a backpass by Oscar fell woefully short. Aguero’s shot was blocked by Hilario, playing his last game for Chelsea, but Barry was running in.

Nasri made it two with a delicate chip over the onrushing goalkeeper just shy of the half-hour mark in a first half City controlled.

Chelsea got back into the game 30 seconds after the restart after Ramires’ beat the offside trap and met Luiz’s astonishing pass, before rounding home past Richard Wright.

Milner’s low drive beat Cech as City restored their two-goal advantage but yet again Ramires’ replied, this time tapping in one yard out.

Nasri put the finishing touches on a wonderful City passage of play as the scoreline became 4-2, but Juan Mata set up a tense finale as his outstanding free-kick eight minutes from time hit the underside of the bar and in: Wright was motionless.

Mata free-kick

The hopes were dashed just two minutes later, however, as Dzeko’s long-range daisy-cutter evaded Cech as Benitez’s departs Chelsea with a loss.

 

 

Chelsea 2-1 Everton

Chelsea avoided a possible play-off and secured third place thanks to a Fernando Torres winner to send Rafael Benitez out on a high.

Juan Mata had given Chelsea the lead in the seventh minute, but Naismith levelled seven minutes later. With the score remaining 1-1 until the 75th minute, one eye was on the Arsenal game, but Chelsea were left to thank Torres’ short-range bullet to preserve May’s unbeaten record.

In truth, the game was near enough a dead-rubber. Everton has secured 6th place whilst Chelsea, in 3rd or 4th, had guaranteed a Champions League berth for next season. But you would have been forgiven for thinking this would have had the intensity of a training ground match. Far from it.

Everton had the desire to make sure David Moyes signed out with a victory, and, as bizarre as it may seem 47 matches later, it seemed Chelsea had some motives to part company with Benitez with three points also. The growing respect for the Spaniard, as so often the case, comes as he is about to leave, but not without a Europa League to his CV.

And though there was little to play for, both teams respected the Premier League until the end. Chelsea handed a first Premier League start to Nathan Ake, whilst Andreas Christiensen was involved with the first-team for the first time, being on the bench. Despite the youth, there was still experimental force. Ba and Torres were starting, albeit not as a partnership with the Spaniard as the right-winger.

And on the back of that Amsterdam win mid-week, there was a real jovial atmosphere around Stamford Bridge, which was reciprocated on the field of play. Demba Ba nearly broke the deadlock three minutes in but Distin stood his ground.

The warning signs were there and Chelsea did make them pay moments later. Ba’s shot this time was saved by Howard, but Mata was on hand to score his 20th of the season.

Steven Naismith had other ideas just as Chelsea fans were hoping for a comfortable win, capitalising on a David Luiz mistake and firing past Cech, as the game started in terrific fashion.

The tempo did not cease: Everton his the post twice in an end-to-end match, whilst Torres had opportunities. Ake was holding firm, just about, in the holding midfield role, whilst his defensive partner continued to show his capabilities on the back of that one-year contract extension, nearly doubling the host’s lead on the stroke of half-time after the game’s best passage of play.

Gary Cahill’s left-foot drive was well stopped by Howard’s two hands whilst Ba had all the time in the world to score, but found Distin in his way.

So too did Oscar become fearful of the menacing Everton central defender. One on one with the Frenchman, the Brazilian opted for the long-range daisy-cutter, rather than meeting Distin man-for-man. It was a lethargic effort but a tiring season, and no doubt the sheer size of Distin on Oscar dissuaded the Brazilian from trying to race the 35-year-old.

Jelavic had a glorious opportunity to give Everton the lead but his tame left-foot try was smothered by Cech, whilst Ivanovic could not work wonders with his right foot as he did with his head on Wednesday. The Serbian had plenty of space on the penalty spot to turn and shoot, but skied it high and wide.

Torres showed his how to score, however, just two minutes later. Ba had, by now, been substituted, and so the Spaniard took up the more advanced centre forward role. Ake’s slow build-up play eventually came to Moses’, who headed down for Torres to half-volley home past Howard’s near post: 2-1.

It was the former Liverpool striker’s first goal in the Premier League for over 19 and a half hours, time spanning back to the last calendar year, but it was the crucial winner as Chelsea end another turbulent season with joy.