MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 0-0 CITYNORWICH City kept their Premier League survival hopes alive with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The hosts hit the woodwork through Andre Schurrle and David Luiz, but City had their own chances through Robert Snodgrass and Bradley Johnson to win it, and had a good appeal for a penalty turned down in the first half.
It was a magnificent show of resilience from the Canaries, but they now have to hope Sunderland lose their two remaining games, coupled with a final day win over Arsenal at Carrow Road, to preserve their top flight status.
Neil Adams made three changes to his team prior to the game, with Johan Elmander offered a starting berth along with Ryan Bennett and Alex Tettey.
Chelsea were looking to avoid a third successive home defeat after their midweek Champions’ League exit against Atletico Madrid.
City allowed Schurrle a free shot at goal on three minutes as neither Michael Turner or Russell Martin took command at the back – thankfully for them, it was straight at John Ruddy.
A confident period of possession for the Canaries followed, however, and they screamed for a penalty when Martin Olsson’s run into the box was halted by a combination of John Terry and Ashley Cole, but Neil Swarbrick refused to point to the spot.
Olsson, playing a more advanced left-midfield role, then whipped in a cross that only just evaded the onrunning Johnson, but the signs were there that Adams’ team were settling into a rhythm.
They were reminded of Chelsea’s power in the air when Terry’s header from Schurrle’s corner fortunately went straight at Ruddy, and then the German went closest up to then on 32 minutes.
Space on the left allowed him to cut inside Martin, but his effort, which looked destined to creep in the far post instead hit it, and City were able to clear.
HALF-TIME: Chelsea 0-0 Norwich City
Jose Mourinho introduced PFA Young Player of the Year Eden Hazard at the half-time, along with David Luiz, as the hosts looked to offer more a threat going forward after a comfortable first half for City.
It was Luiz, however, rather than Hazard, who almost stunned the Canaries with a curling shot from outside the box three minutes after the break, but it cannoned off the crossbar to the relief of the 3000 travelling away fans.
Chelsea’s tempo was higher so Adams’ brought on Nathan Redmond to try and stretch City’s own shape, with the youngster taking the place of the tireless Elmander.
His pace immediately created the Canaries’ best chance of the second period when he set Snodgrass free down the right, but some superb defending from Gary Cahill allowed him to retreat and block his attempt at goal.
Up the other end, Hazard’s trickery earned him the right to power a drive low at goal, but Ruddy padded it away with a firm hand – a fantastic save but with ten minutes left, City knew that three points would help them much more in their quest for survival than just one.
From Ryan Bennett’s long-throw in the last minute of normal time, Bradley Johnson managed a weak header that Schwarzer collected, but in the end a brilliant performance from City warranted the point.
FULL-TIME: Chelsea 0-0 Norwich City
CHELSEA: Schwarzer; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; Lampard (Luiz 45), Matic (Torres 73); Salah (Hazard 45), Willian, Schurrle; Ba. Subs not used: Hilario (GK), Kalas, Van Ginkel, Eto’o.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Martin (c), R Bennett, Turner, Whittaker; Tettey; Snodgrass, Johnson, Howson, Olsson; Elmander (Redmond 69). Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Bassong, van Wolfswinkel, Fer, Hooper, E Bennett.
REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick