Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.

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

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


Man of the Match

Azpilicueta 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

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

 

Manager Reaction

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.

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

© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2014. 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.

Advertisements

Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea fell apart on the biggest night of their season, conceding an infrequent three goals at Stamford Bridge, to bow out of the Champions League with a whimper.

The Blues, who knew they had to win whilst Atletico Madrid could draw to go through to the final, were caught in two minds as to whether to park the bus or attack.

They opted for the latter and reaped the rewards when Fernando Torres side-footed home against his former club with 36 minutes on the clock, but the failure to shut the game up saw Atletico reply within eight minutes, before running away with it in the second half.

Embed from Getty Images

It means that, in all likelihood, Chelsea will end the season trophyless, and for Mourinho it will be a second consecutive season without any major honours.

One can surely not count it as a disappointment however. Chelsea were never one of the top two sides in Europe this season — they are not even top two in England — whilst Atletico have blown opponents apart with their lethal attack and robust defence in the Spanish league.

It gives Lisbon an all-Madrid final to host on May 24th, and for Mourinho and his Chelsea boys, a sense of sadness but surely pride for running it so close.

Chelsea have been famed for their sturdy bus-parking in recent matches but, to shake things up, Mourinho opted to attack. Despite naming six defenders in his side — albeit Azpilicueta was right-wing and David Luiz was a holding midfielder — the attacking intent was there by Chelsea, often led by Hazard.

Whether this change of philosophy was brought about because Mourinho fancied his chances at home, or whether the media pressure proved too great, but Chelsea looked awkward from the off, lucky to see an Atletico shot hit the underside of the crossbar, whilst Schwarzer had to have tremendous reactions to further stop Simeone’s men.

Chelsea had chances from set-pieces but could not beat Courtois. They did, however, get a goal from open play, with a right-wing cross finding Torres to score.

The uncertainty in how to set up next was mystifying from a Mourinho side but the defence was at sea and could only hold their lead for eight minutes.

The ball somehow found Adrian as Cahill and Schwarzer missed it, and his shot into the ground looped over the back-tracking Cahill to keep the scores level going into the break.

But Chelsea had no answers thereafter. Terry had a glorious chance stopped by Courtois and putting Eto’o on for Ashley Cole might have paid off, but it was a huge risk, especially as the Cameroonian was to concede a penalty within moments of coming on. Diego Costa, unlike Lionel Messi, was to make no mistake.

The tie was put to bed in the 72nd minute when Turan fired home their third to put them into their first European Cup final for 40 years.

(Chelsea) Man of the Match

TerryJOHN TERRY: No player was outstanding, so this man stands out for his unwavering passion. A hugely difficult night and, still not fully fit, could not deal with the demands. 6/10

 

 

Manager Reaction

Jose was sad but forward-thinking: One minute in the second half decided everything. A minute where the Atletico goalkeeper makes an impossible save to a John Terry header then the penalty that kills the game. Next season will be better than this season — that’s our objective — the objective of everybody. Our young players will be better, hopefully we will have a couple of players to improve our team and we will try to do better next season.”

Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea secured a valuable away goal but will rue the fact they could not convert their first-half dominance into more goals as Chedjou’s equaliser means there is all to play for in the return leg in three weeks’ time.

Fernando Torres’ early opener looked to be a sign of things to come as Chelsea carved open Galatasaray’s defence on many occasions, to the point where Mancini’s hand was forced and tactical substitution had to be made within half an hour.

But with that came re-organisation and whilst it settled the Turkish side for the remainder of the second half, it invigorated them in the second period, equalising just after the hour mark.

It was a gift of a goal for Chelsea to concede: Sneijder’s corner evaded everyone’s head and Chedjou latched onto the ball with his right foot three yards out.

It had undone all of Chelsea’s hard work up until that point. Fernando Torres’ goal was effective team-play: a surge down the left-wing through Azpilicueta, who found his compatriot in the penalty area and Torres steered home well.

The scoring for Chelsea should not have been done there. Willian had a shot blocked, as too Torres. Hajrovic’s wild effort flung wide of Cech’s goal, and it was the Champions League debutant who them had to make after 31 minutes; Mancini deemed him the culprit for Chelsea’s impressive start.

The match evened out very nicely after Chedjou’s leveller, to the point where Galatasaray perhaps were in the ascendency, certainly judging by the statistics which show the home side occupying 58% of the possession and having two more shots than Chelsea.

Mourinho sent a change in the pattern of the game, opting for caution by sending on Mikel for Schurrle, as the game drifted. Drogba’s night ended disappointingly early — hooked off after 80 minutes — but he is sure to get a warm reception in the reverse fixture next month.

Man of the Match

Azpilicueta

CESAR AZPILICUETA: Refreshingly positive and growing in stature as he continues to revel in keeping Ashley Cole out of the starting eleven. The right full-back is excelling being played out of position, showing an effective left-foot. Capable of defending resolutely — although perhaps not as convincingly as Ashley Cole, who can be remembered for his classic goal-line clearances — the man affectionately known as Dave is more of an attacking threat. Energetic and enthusiastic, he played Torres in with a delicate square ball to give Chelsea their away goal. 7/10

Manager Reaction

Jose Mourinho was in reflective mood: “The first half we had chances to kill game [whilst] in the second half they put pressure on us. They had attacking full-backs and powerful strikers, and they put pressure on us. But we were comfortable, until we conceded at the corner. I can’t complain… the performance of the players in a difficult place to play was amazing. It’s not a bad result but they are an experienced team with good strikers and we will have work to do.”

Hull City 0-2 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea climbed above Arsenal and Manchester City in the table as Hazard and Torres secured all three valuable points for the Blues.

It means the pressure is fully on Chelsea’s title rivals now, and with Manchester City playing tomorrow and Arsenal playing on Monday, it allows the Blues to secure top spot for 24 hours at least.

But Hull ran them close in the first half, stifling Chelsea attacks and posing a threat themselves, particularly as Elmohamady beat Ashley Cole for pace on more than one occasion.

But the current Europa League holders refused to press the panic button, and one moment of magic from Hazard settled Chelsea’s nerves. The Belgian cut inside from the left and faked his initial shot, and when the coast was clear, rifled past McGregor low into the bottom corner to record his ninth Premier League goal of the campaign.

And with the Hull side set up intent to get a draw from the off, their lack of adaptability when falling behind further played into Chelsea’s hands. The Tigers rarely looked like getting back into the match, and the icing on the cake was delivered by Fernando Torres’ low, left-foot drive with three minutes to spare.

It gives Chelsea now plenty of time to enjoy the weekend, and then prepare for next weekend’s mouth-watering clash against Manchester United.

Man of the Match

Hazard

EDEN HAZARD: A precocious talent last year and now turning some of that potential into actuality. The Belgian is often deployed as a left-winger, but to believe the 23-year-old is a winger would be naïve. Almost always cuts inside and very often finds the back of the net, like today with a fantastic bit of trickery to fool his markers before burying his shot past McGregor. Magnificent. 8/10

Manager Reaction

Mourinho has praise for Hazard: “He [has been] playing very well for a long time. The club made a big investment in him last year because they trust him a lot. He is more than just a talented kid now. He feels and accepts the responsibility, accepts that a team player is more than a talented player. The kid is in a very good moment of his career with three consecutive man of the matches.”

Bruce was likewise complimentary of Chelsea’s attacking threat: “Hazard was for me the best player on the pitch. He scored a wonder goal and after that it became a very difficult afternoon, it became stretched and open and their top players had more space to show their quality.”

Chelsea vs. West Brom Preview

Ahead of this Saturday’s clash with West Brom, I spoke to AlbionTillWeDie.co.uk, outlining my predictions for the match and season ahead. Here are my thoughts:

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

It’s been an excellent start to the season results-wise for Chelsea, how have performances been?

Performances have been very promising as a whole, but some shaky performances early on in the season and, more recently at Newcastle, cast doubt over whether Mourinho can actually repeat his heroics of 2004 so instantly this time round. Oscar has excelled in his Number 10 role and the furore over Mata losing his position has largely quietened. Some defensive solidity has been restored with the pairing of Cahill-Terry, so the problem involving keeping Luiz happy has to be addressed. The initial worry the reasons as to why the strikers could not score looks to be disappearing with the resurgence of Torres and, more lately, Eto’o at Schalke.

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

Blues’ fans must have been happy to see the return of the ‘Special One’? will he be given the time previous managers weren’t?

For sure. The Chelsea hierarchy did remark that this was the most peaceful managerial appointment they’ve had for a long time. The anger over Benitez, the hasty arrival of Di Matteo, the optimistic appointment of AVB. Finally Chelsea returns to someone who needs no introduction and has, although he does not want to live off it, bought himself significant time given his successes first time round. Whilst Abramovich shall still be as ruthless as ever, there is a direction seen with Mourinho’s works, and that is why it may pay off for him. A philosophy is always present. 

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

Who’s been the star of your season so far?

The star last season has to be Mata but with him being side-lined, then a new star must emerge and we are seeing it with Oscar. Too young? Too slight? Too Brazilian for the Premier League? The man is having none of it, displaying passing and maturity beyond his age. Much more is to be expected of Hazard whilst Torres has demonstrated very capable perseverance and heart wearing the Chelsea shirt than we have seen for many a long time.

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

Anyone been particularly disappointing?

Lampard worked so hard for his contract extension last year but, whilst it cannot be said he is sated by that, it must be said his game has to improve. For sure, he has had to sit deeper alongside Ramires, but he did that largely last season, and the choosing of Lampard over Mikel in that holding role is that Lampard offers more going forward. We have seen the one goal but more can come from a man who no doubt shall display his experience and know-how later on in the seasons and dig in deep when it matters.

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

Thoughts on Fernando Torres? To the neutral he seems nothing like the player he was at Anfield, what’s the general view of him amongst Chelsea fans?

The general feel must be one of continued optimism. The realisation that he can never repay the £50 million fee is very much correct, and nothing can really replace some pretty poor two and a half years. But better to repay as much of it as you can, and soon given age is not on his side. More performances of the heart and soul shown recently will endear himself to frustrated Chelsea fans, but the one thing craved most is goals, hence the enormous love for him with his winner against Manchester City. He must remain as Chelsea’s number one given Eto’o’s still in transition period and Ba is not cut for it, but whilst Torres can have very poor days also, the feel is one of optimism that, like Mourinho worked his magic on Benzema, so too can be rework Torres.

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

Your view on Romelu Lukaku, most Baggies’ fans were surprised he was allowed to leave on loan again and Everton are clearly reaping the rewards now, should he have been given more of a chance at Stamford Bridge?

I was probably the one fan thinking so but the loan was the right move for him. If anything, his move to Chelsea came too soon. This is a very capable man who can do wonders for Chelsea maybe as early as next year, but his age must not be forgotten. He had the opportunity to learn from Drogba and has put that into practice wonderfully as West Brom, and now at a step up in Everton. A continued good season shall no doubt convince Mourinho that Lukaku is the way forward, but for the decision made this summer, it was very correct in keeping the other three strikers happy and in furthering Lukaku’s overall game time and technical knowledge.

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

Any particular memories or highlights that stand out from previous Albion v Chelsea games?

A Chelsea versus West Brom always stirs up memories as a manager always seems to leave! Di Matteo, AVB, and whilst Mourinho shall not leave regardless of the result, the importance must not be underestimated. Clarke’s men play some admirable stuff and Mourinho must alter his tactics else Clarke, having worked so closely to the Mourinho method for so long, may suss the Portuguese out.

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

Prediction for Chelsea’s season? Can you achieve success in both the Premier League and Europe or will one become a distraction for the other?

The Premier League must be the key aim. It must be disappointing for Abramovich to have only won it three times in ten years when Chelsea is a side that can win it every other year, but the emergence of City and internal turbulence at Chelsea has seen United hold strong power still. Mourinho is very true in saying the best team always wins the Premier League. In the cup competitions, one unlucky moment, a controversial refereeing decision, a wrong penalty call, the timing of the match.. All these factors can work against you but in the 38-game League season, they even out and Mourinho will firmly enjoy calling himself a true winner after just one year back.

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

Prediction for Albion’s season?

I expected a lot of Anelka given I know what he can do after his Chelsea time but stints at Juventus and in China, together with unfortunate  personal matters has meant he has suffered. The philosophies and management of Steve Clarke must be admired and as Mourinho said earlier today in his press conference, he was “more than an assistant coach”.  Early season struggles should be quickly forgotten and West Brom and Steve Clarke will have enough to see out a top position.

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

Premier League Champions?

Chelsea! Not being so biased, but I feel we have the best squad and manager who has the experience to see the challenges of City and United out. Arsenal are going strong but I cannot see them not capitulating.

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

Relegated?

Crystal Palace, Hull, Norwich.

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

Prediction for Saturday’s game?

One must be optimistic and go for a Chelsea win, particularly knowing the Blues are at home.

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

You can find the direct link of the interview at http://www.albiontillwedie.co.uk/201314/previews/away/chelseaq&a.html

 

 

Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: in pictures

The cameras were trained on Jose Mourinho for his first match back in charge of Chelsea. But for a full picture, enjoy the view of where I was, three rows behind the dugout. Included is 184 photos of the day’s events, from warm-up, key action and full-time.

 

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.