Chelsea ensured that they would enter the upcoming International break at the top of the table by defeating Norwich City 4-1 on Saturday. Goals from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard, and Branislav Ivanovic set the pace for the Blues, as the European champions have dropped just 2 points so far in this league campaign. However, the Blues had to show a bit of resiliency after the attacking style of Norwich gave them an early scare with Grant Holt nabbing the first goal of the game on 10 minutes after firing home from a beautiful headed setup by Leon Barnett.
Chelsea should have been ahead, though, as for all Norwich’s attacking prowess, they do look quite suspect at the back. The Canaries were nearly caught ball watching in the 3rd minute when Torres broke through their lines to latch onto a long ball from Lampard and raced clear, but Barnett was able to recover in time to snuff the chance out.
Torres would atone for his early missed chance in the 13th minute when his head met Ivanovic’s cross from the right, and the Spaniard was able to collect his 99th career goal in England.
Norwich should have regained the lead on 19 minutes when Wes Hoolahan’s cross found Alexander Tettey unmarked in the box, but the midfielder was caught in two minds on whether to volley or stoop to head it. He chose the latter and headed well wide of the target.
Norwich were made to pay for that moments later when Torres’ attempted bicycle kick was cleared, but only as far as Lampard who calmly stroked the ball past John Ruddy for Chelsea’s 2nd and Lampard 129th goal in the top flight, equalling Bobby Tambling’s club record.
It’s a lead that Chelsea would not relinquish, and the Blues began to turn on the style. After a Norwich corner, Juan Mata took advantage of a slip by Hoolahan and raced forward unchallenged for 50 yards before sliding a brilliant pass through Norwich’s back line for Hazard to cooly slot home for his 2nd goal for the club and his first from open play.
Norwich had two good chances to pull a goal back either side of the half with Grant Holt nodding high and over on one occasion and low and wide on another from 12 yards out. Holt provided their main threat for much of the match, especially with his ability to win headers in the box, though he was not able to convert.
In the end, it was his defense that let him down in combination with brilliant build-up play by the Blues. Mata nearly made it four for Chelsea on 58 minutes when Hazard found his brilliant run through the middle but was denied by John Ruddy. Torres had his chance for his 100th goal in England in the 74th minute after a brilliant one-two with Mata had him clear of the defence, but Ruddy again made another good save to deny a Chelsea player.
Ruddy could do nothing about the 4th goal just minutes later, and it came from a finish that a striker would be proud of. Oscar’s cross from the left evaded the head of Torres, but Mata was able to flick it back to Ivanovic who rifled a volley home from 12 yards that Ruddy could only guide into the net.
It was no less than the Blues deserved, and after an early scare from Norwich, settled into the match and showed their superiority.