Mourinho’s return will bring tears to everyone

It was Thursday 20th September 2007 and in the early morning came a statement on the Chelsea website: “Chelsea Football Club and José Mourinho have agreed to part company today (Thursday) by mutual consent.”

Before Chelsea fans had even woken up, the news was out and the tears were inevitably flowing. Sad that three glorious years — an era in Chelsea terms — had come to an end. Sad that the constant stream of trophies would end. Sad that this charismatic man would no longer be the manager of this football club, but above all, sad because of the brutality of this act.

A 1-1 draw against Rosenborg proved to be the final straw for Roman Abramovich and his men. It was hardly ghastly, and of the six league matches Mourinho had been manager for at the start of the 2007-2008 season, only one was a loss.

The separation was put down to internal politics. Mourinho, in return for a €20 million compensation package, was to keep quiet for the remainder of the season as he and his backroom staff took an impromptu sabbatical. Avram Grant, the source of much discontent, would take over at the helm as Henk Ten Cate came in as assistant, but Chelsea just could not win without Mourinho. Runners-up in the League Cup, runners-up in the Premier League, but more agonisingly, runners-up in the Champions League spelt the end for Avram Grant also. What would have happened had Jose been there?

It was never going to be easy to keep Mourinho out of the game. The man brought success and life post-Chelsea would start at Inter Milan. The league was won, so too the Supercoppa Italiana. Mourinho was coping just fine, receiving the affection of Italy.

Chelsea, meanwhile, could not move on post-Mourinho. Three managers were turned over in a year: Scolari, Wilkins and Hiddink. The FA Cup was won, but third in the league and the cruelest of Champions League semi-final exits put an end to any more success. Chelsea needed Mourinho more than Mourinho needed Chelsea.

The games continued. Mourinho, having calmed down from his shock exit, referred to Chelsea as “my Chelsea”. His heart was still there. But the pattern continued into the 2009-2010 season. Mourinho showed, in sublime fashion, what Chelsea were missing, winning the Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League. There was no stopping him. Chelsea and Ancelotti recorded the domestic double, but a last-16 exit in Europe’s premier competition would have stung Abramovich.

Chelsea, under Ancelotti, were seemingly moving on from Mourinho. The Italian had a strong first season, but his second proved to be his last. Inter, meanwhile, were struggling also. It is no coincidence that a club deteriorates once Jose leaves. Inter Milan felt the effect: his successor there, Rafa Benitez, was fired before Christmas.

And so it was destination Madrid for Mourinho. The Portuguese manager won the Copa del Rey and promised to topple Barcelona from the helm in his second season. He delivered in emphatic style, setting a new La Liga points record of 100 from the 114 available. Chelsea, meanwhile, were sinking back: Mourinho’s prodigee, Andre Villas-Boas, was to be fired in March. Another caretaker was needed, but success resulted in the Champions League.

Even that elusive trophy would only buy Di Matteo four month’s of time, and Benitez was in and out for the remainder of the season. Mourinho was to endure his “worst” season, winning none of the major Spanish trophies and having key fall-outs with players.

And so to the present day. Six years of waiting. Chelsea had toyed with managers but they have exhausted nearly all options. They now look back to go forward. Expectations will be raised but Mourinho joked this time it will be “even better”. The humour will flow: from the omelettes to the bird flu, the man has an incredible way with the English language. Chelsea are at a time where stability is needed. Mourinho is at a time where he wants to be loved. This second coming will bring tears of happiness to the Chelsea fan, tears of laughter to the media and tears of sheer agony to any rival fans.

Welcome home, Jose. Welcome home.


The follow-up post, titled: “What to expect from Mourinho’s first season back” can be found by clicking here.


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.


Benfica 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea became the first side in history to hold both the Champions League and Europa League trophies at the same time after a stoppage-time winner from Branislav Ivanovic.

Fernando Torres, who becomes the first ever player to win the Europa League, Champions League, World Cup and the European Championship, gave the Blues the lead just before the hour mark, before Cardozo levelled from the spot eight minutes later.

But the drama continued to the very last and like in Munich, it was another Juan Mata corner that had a telling say, with Ivanovic leaping highest to ensure Chelsea of another major European trophy.

It means now Chelsea have another shot at UEFA Super Cup glory, having been taught a lesson by Atletico Madrid and Falcao last time, with either Dortmund or Bayern Munich awaiting the lucrative tie in Prague at the end of August.

No side has ever won UEFA’s top two club competitions in reverse order in successive campaigns, and whilst it may be seen as inferior to the Champions League, there was no hiding the delight of another major trophy to get the hands of.

And where last year was Drogba’s final, this was Torres and Ivanovic’s, who played little or no part in the showpiece event in Munich 361 days ago.

It caps off a remarkable year for Chelsea, who were in the running for SEVEN trophies going into the season (Community Shield, Super Cup, Club World Cup, Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and the Champions League), but it typifies Chelsea to do the unpredictable and win a trophy they were never in the hunt for.

Rafa Benitez can now sign off with a European trophy to his CV, as can Chelsea to its history books, but it was sheer horror for Benfica. The Portuguese side were firmly in the hunt for a treble just four days ago, but a stoppage-time defeat to Porto, and another last-gasp loss here, mean they may just end their campaign with a Portuguese Cup.

It was Benfica who, in actual fact, started the match better. Despite Chelsea having won their last five encounters with Portuguese opponents, the Blues only had 38% of the possession. Cardozo set the warning signs off just two minutes in when he had a free header, whilst Gaitan similarly had chances of his own.

Perez’s menacing run brought the game’s first card against Oscar for cynically stopping him, but it incentivised Chelsea to play better.

Mata’s shot was unconventionally punched away by Artur, whilst Lampard’s swerving long-range effort was destined for the goal, only for a fantastic, acrobatic stop by the Benfica keeper.

The pulsating action did not cease going into the second half. Chelsea were exploited down a weak right-hand side of Azpilicueta and Ramires, but neither Salvio or Cardozo could take full advantage despite some wonderful Benfica passing.

Just like Ribery had the ball in the net last year, Cardozo similarly had to in the 50th minute, but was similarly dismayed to see the offside flay, correctly, be raised.

Slowly Chelsea were getting back into the game and the first goal was a real gift.

Cech’s hopeful throw out was to the centre of the park and Mata’s vital flick-on found Torres. The Spaniard showed his strength to muscle out Luisao before showing his composure and skill to first dummy a shot, before finally pulling the trigger and giving Chelsea the advantage.

The striker has had an indifferent season in the league this campaign, but there can be no denying the man in Europe. Only Ronaldo (12) and Lewandowski (10) have scored more goals than Fernando Torres (9) in Europe this season.

The lead did not last long as Azpilicueta stopped the ball with his hand as Chelsea conceded their sixth penalty in Europe this season, two more than any other side in the Europa League or Champions League. Cardozo slammed home from the spot, as Cech could not repeat his Munich heroics.

Cardozo nearly bagged a brace when the ball dropped kindly at his feet, and his half-volley drew the best out of Cech, who tipped it over with his fingertips.

Lampard, running sideways, nearly won it for the Blues as his 30 yard strike cannoned off the crossbar; it deserved to go in.

The Blues have actually won 63% of their European ties that have not involved John Terry compared to 47% when he has played, but there can be no denying his presence in the box at corners. Fear not when there is Cahill or Ivanovic, and the latter scored in the 93rd minute, powerfully planting the ball into the far corner as Benfica were shell-shocked.

There was still work to be done as Cardozo failed to get the ball out of his feet before Cahill smoothered, but by then, we were already well past the three minutes officially added on, and a new trophy is Chelsea’s.


Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea

Frank Lampard became Chelsea’s all-time top scorer as his brace as good as seals Champions League qualification for next season.

The veteran midfielder equalised, after Christian Benteke had opened the scoring, with a thumping left-foot drive, and his winner, one minute from time, was his trademark late run into the box and a simple tap-in that brought, finally, goal number 203.

It means Lampard is now outright top scorer, overtaking Bobby Tambling. And because of his double, Chelsea are all-but guaranteed a top-four league finish due to the goal different superiority over Tottenham (+35 to +18).

The Blues would not have wanted it to be dragged out to the last match of the season, which will be David Moyes’ goodbye match at Everton, and now full concentrations can go to the Europa League match mid-week.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their past six Premier League matches, but against a relegation-threatened Aston Villa side, it was always going to be a tough call.

The reverse fixture earlier this season saw Chelsea set a new Premier League record for the most number of different scorers (7) in a match, but the goals would not be flowing in this time. Even though the West Midlands side have not kept a clean sheet in their last 20 league matches, the attacking prowess of Benteke and Agbonlahor would always test a shaky Chelsea, who let a lead slip against Tottenham mid-week. The Blues have, in actual fact, only won 23% of the last 70 games played away to Aston Villa, and with Villa looking to win 3 league matches in a row for the first time in three years, the match would go right down to the wire.

And it was The Claret And Blue side that started the better of the two, rewarded with a goal inside the first quarter of an hour. Benteke was allowed tons of room to run down the left-side after a misplaced Cahill pass, and his shot crept inside the near post of Cech to give the hosts a shock opener. Benteke is now the third-highest scorer this calendar year in Europe’s top five leagues, behind only Messi and Ronaldo.

The European Champions have scored 141 goals in 66 matches this season — the club record is 142 goals set in 2009-10 — but the record-equalling goal proved elusive.

Guzan was stopping Ba, Mata and a Lampard free-kick, and matters were made worse when Ramires needlessly picked up two yellow cards in the space of 28 minutes. The Brazilian was eventually shown his marching orders for a high foot, as the uphill battle was getting away from Chelsea.

Luiz replaced the ineffective Moses as Benitez looked to make up for the lost holding midfielder, and this gave Lampard licence to roam, whilst Luiz was composed in the defensive role.

Villa had more chances than Chelsea to score the game’s next goal, but the turning point once again was to be another second yellow card, this time for Benteke, who was again sent off for a high boot. Lee Mason showed the respected consistency.

10 versus 10 allowed Chelsea to not be so defensive and that brought the game’s first goal. Lampard scored Chelsea’s 142nd goal of the season, as well as his 202nd, in a double record-breaking move. Hazard played the ball to Lampard, and the midfielder, with his back to goal, showed a striker’s instinct by swinging around and unleashing an unstoppable left-foot strike, to record his 14th league goal of the season on his 550th Premier League appearance.

Team accomplishments always outweigh personal achievements, as showed with Lampard’s subdued celebration, as Chelsea had the best part of half an hour to score a winner.

Ba looked to have that when Cahill’s strike was stopped by Villa on the line, and Ba looked to get the vital touch that took the whole of the ball over the whole of the line, but with the incident over in a matter of milliseconds, neither Lee Mason nor the linesman could be certain it was a goal.

John Terry suffered an ankle injury on his 550th start for Chelsea in all competitions today, and whilst it would have been nice for him to be on the pitch to celebrate Lampard’s record-breaking goal, it was a phenomenal moment to see Lampard get it wearing the captain’s armband.

Hazard’s one-two with Cole penetrated the back-line and the Belgian then squared to the onrushing Lampard, to tap home his 203rd goal for Chelsea, his 165th in the Premier League, and the 999th in the Premier League this season. It means Lampard has now scored more goals versus Aston Villa than any other side in his Premier League career (13).

Aston Villa surged in the seven minutes of added time but there was no erasing Lampard’s contribution to a fine game, capped off in remarkable style. His brace means Champions League football next season. Whether he gets to savour in his and his team’s achievement next season remains to be seen.

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea and Tottenham saw out an entertaining draw at Stamford Bridge on AVB’s return.

Oscar’s early contribution was cancelled out by an Adebayor spectacular, before Ramires restored the Blues’ lead. Sigurdsson equalised once again as the spoilts were shared.

It was a match with two different motives. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 25 home games versus Spurs in all competitions. The last time Spurs won at Chelsea was in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was still in prison.

Any worries of a cagey game were quickly wiped out in the early stages. Both team had a clear vision for the match: playing to win. For Tottenham, it was a must, to not only keep their Champions League ambitions realistic, but perhaps to keep hold of star players such as Gareth Bale. For Chelsea, a win would guarantee a Champions League berth and a significant improvement on last season’s sixth-placed finish.

Gareth Bale looked to continue his astonishing streak, but the holding partnership of Ramires and David Luiz, who was making his 100th start for Chelsea this evening, looked to be keeping the Welshman at bay. Chelsea, meanwhile, are blessed with more than one star playmaker, and Eden Hazard was in no mood to mess about after his missing of the Manchester United victory at the weekend, displaying fine touches and impeccable dribbling abilities.

The warning signs had been coming and it was Oscar who grabbed the game’s first goal. An inswinging corner was met by Gary Cahill who rose highest, but his header was going off target before the vital intervention of Oscar at the back-post. The Spurs back-line had two players guarding the near post, playing the Brazilian clearly on-side, but Oscar evaded everybody and set Chelsea on their way.

Holtby had an effort, whilst at the other end, Dawson was throwing his body around to keep the scoreline so, and it would need something special from Tottenham to penetrate Petr Cech’s goal.

Adebayor gave just that. From a Chelsea corner, Tottenham counter-attacked and though Azpilicueta, Cole and Cahill were in place, all were back-tracking and when Adebayor sensed nobody was going to close him down, the big Togo striker curled past Petr Cech to draw the match level.

Stamford Bridge was left stunned after a period of consummate ease, but Tottenham have scored more goals from outside the box than any other team in the Premier League this season. This time, however, it was not Gareth Bale.

It was an end-to-end match, with Gareth Bale taking the ball in his stride, only to see his shot stopped by a last-ditch Gary Cahill block, whilst Jan Vertonghen’s wonderful pass to Adebayor needed a Ba-esque finish, but the outstretched leg of Adebayor could not reap the rewards of Ba against Manchester United in the FA Cup last month.

Where Adebayor’s goal was of individual brilliance, the next goal of the game was wonderful team play. Torres played around with the ball on the right wing and his pass to Oscar was gotten to first by Ramires, who took the ball in his stride and thumped it past Lloris on the stretch, to record his fifth Premier League goal. It was a wonderful goal to cap off a thrilling half.

The suspense and excitement continued where it left off in the second half. Chelsea ought to have made it three ten minutes in when Mata and Oscar found Hazard. The Belgian left Dawson for dead, but his shot was neither a chip to the far post to Torres, nor a confident drive, and ended up high and wide. Would it prove costly?

It definitely ought to have been three on the hour mark. From a Tottenham corner, Eden Hazard’s sublime touch found Mata, who unfortunately did not have the pace to outrun Dawson. His pass to Ramires presented the Brazilian with an open goal, but Ramires fell at just the wrong moment and the opportunity passed up.

The pitch was proving slippy on several occasions as Oscar fell twice with presentable chances, and Mike Dean had to be alert whether falls were due to slips or challenges when opponents were in close proximity.

The referee, officiating his 50th match, was keeping his cool with no cards shown for 78 minutes as the game was allowed to flow.

Dempsey was introduced to inject life into his side and the American nearly scored but for an Ivanovic block. The Chelsea back-line were standing resolute.

It was, however, another Villas-Boas substitute that provided the equaliser. Assou-Ekotto’s pass to Adebayor was laid off to Sigurdsson, who side-footed home to create a tense finale.

Dempsey fired straight at Cech as the board for four extra minutes was raised, as the action was ceaseless. Tottenham won a free-kick deep into the injury time but Gareth Bale could not produce his heroics this time. Matters are now taken out of their hands, but for Chelsea, it will be seen as two points dropped.

Manchester United 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea left it late to clinch all three points, in a dull affair that only sparked to life in the final ten minutes.

Juan Mata’s deflected shot — which goes down as a Phil Jones own goal — four minutes from time secured all three points, a momentous win ahead of the crunch derby mid-week against Tottenham.

It means Chelsea now over-take Arsenal in third place, and having played one game less albeit that is the London derby on Wednesday.

With Chelsea all to play for, it was probably a good time to play Manchester United, for which this game was a dead rubber.

Rafael Benitez has now, with this win, won two of his last three league matches at Old Trafford, whilst it’s the first time in 67 matches that Manchester United have failed to score at home, a record that dates back to 2009.

More impressively on the stats, it was the first time Chelsea have beaten Untied with Howard Webb as referee. The official had a passive game, although when called upon for two key decisions in deciding the goal and the United red card, their first of the season, he called them correct.

It was up to Chelsea to bring the game to United. Ferguson had promised to play a strengthened side “out of respect” to the other Champions League fighters, and with van Persie, Vidic and Giggs part of the star-studded line-up, it is fair to say he kept to his word.

In the run-up to the game, the Blues have scored the opening goal in more Premier League games this season than any other side, 22, and it looked to be 23 early on but for Ba to be a whikser away from meeting Mata’s cross.

Tom Cleverley had United’s chance to break to the deadlock, before Oscar nearly hit back. Moses looked to score after his mid-week goal against Basel, whilst Anderson was providing Chelsea reminders not to attack too forcefully.

Van Persie had a quiet introduction but was nearly fed through successfully by Giggs, before Ba had another chance to test Lindegaard. The wall of Evans and Vidic, however, proved too muscular for the one attacker.

It was a penalty appeal at the start of the second half that started to spice the game to life. Ryan Giggs’ tug was evident, but initial contact was indeed outside of the box. Webb, however, opted to give neither a penalty nor the merited free-kick.

Wayne Rooney was introduced mid-way through the second half. The Englishman has scored 48 Premier League goals on Sundays, more than any other player, and sat just behind Van Persie as United sought the winning goal.

But as time wore on, it looked more and more likely like Chelsea would steal the spoils. Torres came on for Moses as Chelsea rallied.

Lampard, who was playing his 30th game for Chelsea against Manchester United, the first player to do so, played a delicious ball into the box to Juan Mata, who found himself free, but unable to jump high enough. Had it been role reversal we might have seen the game’s first goal.

A Chelsea vs. Manchester United tie always usually provides talking points, and this the 42nd meeting between these two sides — with each having recorded 13 wins — was to do in the final stages.

Wayne Rooney was challenged fairly by Ramires, and the Brazilian started the saunter up-front. A mis-placed pass looked to be the end of the counter, but Evans was generous enough to pass the ball back to Mata.

The Spaniard fed to Ramires, whose lay-off to Oscar was deft. His compatriot then found Mata on the edge of the box, and his shot took a vital deflection off Jones’ knee. The ball hit the inside of the post and in.

David Luiz has been much of Chelsea’s story this season and with his disgust at picking up a yellow card an ominious sign of things to come, so he was involved in the game’s next card.

Shielding the ball from Rafael, Luiz cleverly allowed the ball to run out for a goal-kick. Rafael’s kick was late and malicious, and whilst Luiz was by no means seriously hurt, Webb and Sian Massey deemed it necessary to show the full-back his marching orders, that brought the match to a hectic end.