Not exactly easy but another home win against the sort of opposition we should be taking in our stride. Having struggled to find blend and fluency against West Bromwich Albion, we looked for a while like possibly dropping points against Norwich City until a late penalty from Frank Lampard.
In the end the match ended on a high when Juan Mata, newly arrived from Valencia scored a third goal in the 10th of the 11 minutes of stoppage time which were due to the prolonged treatment Didier Drogba needed before he could be taken off on a stretcher following a collision with John Ruddy, the Norwich goalkeeper.
Norwich drew level early in the second half after appearing in danger of being swamped at the start of the game.
We scored after only six minutes and looked in the mood for another routine rout against the Canaries who were allowing us an enormous amount of space. José Bosingwa had already drawn a stretching save from Ruddy and then moved on to Frank Lampard’s pass to beat the keeper from 30 yards with a shot into the far left-hand corner of the net.
With Bosingwa regularly turning Norwich’s defence on the right, and Drogba only just failing to make contact with a shrewd through-ball from Fernando Torres, Norwich appeared to be in for an afternoon of damage limitation.
However, having leapt two divisions playing quick, intelligent football, when they started to get men forward in numbers to support Grant Holt we began to look unsettled.
Twice in the first half, timely passes from Wesley Hoolahan found our defence moving up too late for offside. On the first occasion Holt could not reach the cross as it dropped behind him, on the second Chris Martin could only lay the ball back to Kyle Naughton, whose rising shot was pushed over the bar by Henrique Hilário.
Norwich drew level just past the hour with a friekish goal. There appeared to be no immediate threat in Naughton’s lob from the right, but a breakdown in communication between Hilário and Branislav Ivanovic found goalkeeper and defender both going for it. Following the collision, Holt hooked the ball in under the crossbar.
Collision-wise, we had a bad day. A few minutes later Ruddy left his goal line to punch away a centre shot and laid out Drogba instead. Drogba underwent prolonged careful treatment before being stretchered off and in the meantime we introduced Mata and Romelu Lukaku.
There was no doubt about the penalty which undid Norwich. Ruddy clearly brought Ramires down and had to go, and Lampard’s firmly struck penalty kick eased our anxieties.
A man down and required to slog on for an extra 11 minutes Norwich were going to do well to get something from the match when the game was wrapped up for us in the final minute.
A mistake from Ritchie de Laet saw him pass the ball into the path of Juan Mata who pounced onto it and slotted the ball past Rudd to make the final score 3-1.
After the game concerns continued regarding Didier Drogba. Villas-Boas said Drogba had “lost consciousness completely” and was grateful to the medical staff for reacting quickly to “a potentially dangerous situation”.
Later Chelsea issued the following statement:-
“Chelsea Football Club can confirm Didier Drogba will be released from hospital tonight following medical tests.
The striker was stretchered off during this afternoon’s 3-1 win against Norwich City after a collision with opposition goalkeeper John Ruddy, and is suffering from mild concussion.
The club’s medical staff will continue to monitor the 33-year-old over the coming days”
Next up an International break before we play Sunderland away on Saturday, 10th September.
Gill Reeves – disabled rep CSG
• 40 Hilario
• 02 Ivanovic
• 03 Cole
• 17 Bosingwa – yellow card
• 26 Terry
• 07 Ramires
• 08 Lampard
• 12 Mikel
• 15 Malouda (Mata 67)
• 09 Torres – yellow card (Lukaku 83)
• 11 Drogba (Anelka 67)
• 22 Turnbull,
• 19 Ferreira,
• 33 Alex,
• 20 McEachran,
• 10 Mata,
• 18 Lukaku,
• 39 Anelka
• 01 Ruddy – red card
• 06 Whitbread (Pilkington 30)
• 20 Barnett
• 23 Tierney
• 24 De Laet
• 25 Naughton – yellow card
• 04 Johnson
• 07 Crofts – yellow card
• 14 Hoolahan (Morison 60)
• 09 Holt
• 16 C Martin (Rudd 81)
• 13 Rudd,
• 02 R Martin,
• 12 Pilkington,
• 15 Fox,
• 17 Bennett,
• 05 Morison,
• 10 Jackson