Chelsea ride their luck to rescue Sarri with Cardiff escape

Chelsea’s English midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (C) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Cardiff City and Chelsea at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on March 31, 2019. Chelsea won the game 2-1.
Geoff CADDICK / AFP

Maurizio Sarri rode his luck as Chelsea narrowly avoided humiliation at Cardiff to hit back and snatch a controversial 2-1 win on Sunday.

Blues boss Sarri was on the brink of a loss that would have pushed him closer to the sack after Victor Camarasa swept struggling Cardiff ahead early in the second half.

Chelsea’s traveling fans had made their feelings clear as they chanted “We want Sarri out” in the second half.

But Sarri’s luck was in as Cesar Azpilicueta headed Chelsea’s equaliser even though clearly offside with just six minutes left.

Chelsea’s fightback got another boost when Antonio Rudiger escaped a red card when he hauled down Kenneth Zohore.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek capped Chelsea’s sorely-needed escape act with a last-gasp winner.

The result keeps sixth-placed Chelsea in contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League, leaving them just one point behind fourth as Sarri battles to salvage a wretched first season in charge.

Cardiff remains the third bottom, with boss Neil Warnock visibly furious at the decisions that pushed his team closer to relegation.

The pressure on Sarri will reduce a little with this victory, but the performance was so unconvincing that it would be no surprise if Wednesday’s clash with Brighton is another close affair for the former Napoli boss.

Despite the clamour for Callum Hudson-Odoi to be given his first league start for Chelsea after his fine England performances, Sarri was unmoved.

The 18-year-old was named among the substitutes, with Eden Hazard – scorer of a hat-trick against Cardiff back in September – also surprisingly on the bench alongside N’Golo Kante.

Chelsea controlled the early stages but the nearest they came to a threat was a long-range shot by Pedro which dipped over the bar.

Lacklustre

Cardiff’s response was to create their own first opportunity.

Harry Arter’s neat pass let Josh Murphy have a run at Marcos Alonso and when the winger cut inside; his shot curled the wrong side of the far post.

Chelsea was remarkably lacklustre in attack and Marcos Alonso’s tame side-foot effort summed up their drab efforts in the first 45 minutes, highlighting how blunt their attack can appear when Hazard is absent.

Within a minute of the re-start Camarasa gave the home side a shock lead.

A long throw-in by Aron Gunnarsson was only half-cleared by the Chelsea defence, giving the Icelander the time to find Arter.

The midfielder clipped a pass to the unmarked Camarasa who struck a crisp half-volley from 15 yards past a startled Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

Sarri’s response was to send on Hazard, just as Chelsea supporters started to chant for their manager to be sacked.

The Belgian was straight into the action as Chelsea looked for their talisman to turn things around.

An increasing desperate Sarri also sent on Loftus-Cheek and then Olivier Giroud.

But there was no introduction of Hudson-Odoi despite his impact for England.

Hazard was unable to impose himself and there was a chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at Sarri as the final whistle loomed.

But with six minutes left, Chelsea finally forced their dubious equaliser as Azpilicueta headed in from Alonso’s flick.

It was the defender’s first goal for almost a year, but it could prove so precious to both Chelsea and Sarri’s future.

That gave Chelsea the confidence to pour forward and Loftus Cheek produced a composed stoppage-time header from Willian’s cross just when Sarri needed it most.

AFP

 

Tottenham End Mighty Chelsea’s Unbeaten Streak

Tottenham End Mighty Chelsea Unbeaten StreakIt was a sad night for Premier League leaders, Chelsea, who were humbled by Tottenham Hotspurs on Wednesday at the White Hart Lane.

Antonio Conte’s men appeared to be fully up to the task, as Eden Hazard got the ball on the left and picked out N’Golo Kante inside with a very neat pass.

Unfortunately, Costa took one touch to place himself on the right spot, only for him to fire a shot well over the crossbar.

After about three minutes later, Gary Cahill was penalised with a yellow card after he duffed a header right at the feet of Christian Eriksen.

The match got more interesting and tougher as Victor Wanyama was also booked for a foul on Hazard.

Spirited Dele Alli finally broke the deadlock when he found an opening between Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta to head to ball past Thibaut Courtois just before the half time whistle.

The striker, who was booked for celebrating with the crowd after a bullet header, headed another goal against the Blues with a brilliant cross from Eriksen who made the first.

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The visitor tried their best to get a consolation goal but the Spurs were determined to make their victory a flawless one.

The match ended 2-0.

Despite the tough challenge, Chelsea are on 49 points with five points ahead of Liverpool while Tottenham are trailing with 42 points.

Chelsea Getting Their Confidence Back – Azpilicueta

chelseaChelsea defender, Cesar Azpilicueta, says the Premier League champions Chelsea are getting their confidence back after winning back-to-back games for only the second time in the 2015/16 campaign.

The Blues defeated Norwich City 1-0 on Sunday in the Premier League and then produced a dominant 4-0 victory over Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“It’s a start. Obviously we want to carry on, we are in a position where we’ve come from two wins in a row, two games in which we’ve played really well and players are getting confidence back,” Azpilicueta told the club’s website (www.chelseafc.com).

“We’ll take it step by step. Now we have a tough game against Tottenham away on Sunday and we want to keep going.

“We were playing well in the last few games but we didn’t get the results we deserved. Obviously for confidence it’s hard but you have to face the reality, keep working, keep trying and I think now the results are coming for us.”

Chelsea face in-form Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and will be hoping to win back-to-back league games for the first time this campaign.

Spurs are unbeaten in 12 league matches and are in the 5th position while Chelsea sit 15th on the table.

Victor Moses completes move to Chelsea

Nigeria forward, Victor Moses from Wigan Athletic Thursday completed his move to Chelsea FC.

The 21-year-old, who featured for the Latics against the European champions last week, agreed personal terms to complete his switch to Stamford Bridge.

No details were released regarding the fee or the length of Moses’ contract.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan accused Chelsea last week of “messing about” over the fee to be paid for Moses, with the Blues’ offers up to that point conditional on add-ons and Wigan thought to be holding out for around £9million.

A bid was finally accepted on Thursday and Moses was given permission to discuss personal terms.

Moses represented England up to under-21 level before switching allegiance to Nigeria for his senior international career.

He emerged from Crystal Palace’s academy to make his first-team debut in 2007, before joining the Latics in 2010 and making 74 league appearances with eight goals.

A statement on Chelsea’s official website read: “Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Victor Moses from Wigan Athletic.

“The 21-year-old winger’s last appearance in Wigan colours came in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at the DW Stadium last weekend, when he caught the eye with his strong running out wide.”

Moses becomes Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo’s second signing of the day, following Friday morning’s capture of Marseille full-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

The 22-year-old, who played for Spain in this summer’s Olympics, arrived for a reported £7m.