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Match Reports

Chelsea v Norwich City

21 November 2015


DIEGO Costa's second half strike condemned Norwich City to a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, despite a hard-working performance from Alex Neil's side.

The Spain international's 64th-minute strike settled the contest in the home team's favour, even though the Canaries had their moments in an entertaining game at Stamford Bridge.

Their best chances fell to Nathan Redmond and Sebastien Bassong, while Robbie Brady had a first half penalty appeal rejected in front of the away supporters.

Chelsea saw a lot of the ball, however, and just about merited three points that lifted them above Norwich in the Barclays Premier League table.

City will now prepare for the visit of Arsenal to Carrow Road, a game scheduled for live television coverage on Sunday, November 29.

They made three changes from the crucial win over Swansea a fortnight ago, with Youssouf Mulumbu, Redmond and Dieumerci Mbokani all given places in the starting eleven.

Russell Martin and Alex Tettey were each absent from the matchday squad, while Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan dropped to the substitutes' bench.

Chelsea welcomed Branislav Ivanovic back into their eleven. John Terry captained the Blues, while Costa led their attack.

Before kick-off, the France national anthem 'La Marseillaise' was played across all Premier League grounds as a mark of respect for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks a week earlier.

Once the game got underway, City started confidently, adopting the formation and approach which have served them since the start of the season, even though Redmond was operating in an unfamiliar central role behind Mbokani.

Cesc Fabregas fired over under pressure when Eden Hazard picked him out from the byline not long before John Terry went close to opening the scoring with an audacious near-post flick from Willian's corner.

City raced up the other end, with Redmond released in the right channel - the winger was just onside and had the space to get a shot away, but Asmir Begovic was equal to it.

The tempo didn't relent as Willian immediately drew a save from John Ruddy after being picked out in the box, and then Mbokani fired over left-footed from the edge of the box for the Canaries moments later.

Costa then wasted the game's best opportunity up to then on 25 minutes - some patient Chelsea build-up play culminated in Pedro squaring for his countryman, but from a matter of yards he turned the ball over Ruddy's bar.

The champions soon started to get a handle on possession but City had a big penalty appeal rejected by referee Craig Pawson ten minutes before the break when Robbie Brady tumbled under the challenge of Willian.

Chelsea had a similar shout turned down when Costa fell as he attempted to move away from Bassong, but Pawson came to the same decision has he had moments earlier - no spot-kick.

Then in the final minutes of the half, both teams nearly grabbed the lead - firstly Bassong was left unmarked at the back post for City, but Terry made a brave block to deny the centre-half the opener.

Jose Mourinho's team quickly pushed forward though, and when Costa picked up the ball ten yards out the crowd rose to their feet - but Ruddy made an exceptional save with his toe, turning the ball around his post.

HALF-TIME: Chelsea 0-0 Norwich City

Ruddy saved Willian's free-kick three minutes after the restart prior to Kurt Zouma turning a close-range volley over from a corner as Chelsea started the second half on the front foot.

They had plenty of possession in the final third, but Ruddy was equal to speculative efforts from Willian and Fabregas - Neil will have been keen, however, to see his team hold the ball more effectively in Chelsea's half.

They were punished, however, after a succession of conceded free-kicks - a quick free-kick was taken by Willian, and Costa was onside to chase the ball down, cut inside Ryan Bennett and finish beyond Ruddy.

Zouma saw a flick rebound off the bar as Chelsea knocked at the door for a second, so Neil changed things up by making a triple substitution.

Hoolahan and Jerome stepped on alongside Graham Dorrans, with Jonny Howson, Youssouf Mulumbu and Mbokani withdrawn.

The hosts continued to see all of the ball, however, with City relying on getting one chance to try and grab the equaliser at an increasingly calm Bridge.

Ruddy was forced into another save on 86 minutes when Nemanja Matic danced through the visiting defence and shot at goal, and the opportunity didn't come for City as they left empty-handed despite forcing Chelsea back in the closing moments.

FULL-TIME: Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City

GOALS: Blues: Diego Costa (64)

CHELSEA: Begovic; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c), Kenedy; Matic, Fabregas; Pedro (Oscar 83), Willian (Ramires 87), Hazard (Azpilicueta 90); Diego Costa. Subs not used: Blackman (GK), Cahill, Traore, Remy.

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Wisdom, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Howson (Hoolahan 73), Mulumbu (Dorrans 73), O'Neil (c), Brady; Redmond; Mbokani (Jerome 73). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Whittaker, Lafferty, Odjidja.

REFEREE: Craig Pawson


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