Norwich City 0-1 Chelsea: Mata strike enough for buoyant Blues
In a match where chances were rare commodities, Rafa Benitez's side was worth the three points as the Canaries posed virtually no threat in attack
By Ryan Benson
Chelsea maintained its recent run of good form thanks to a fairly comfortable 1-0 win at Norwich City on Boxing Day.
The hosts started the game well, enjoying lots of possession, but their inability to carve open chances saw them pay as Juan Mata gave Rafa Benitez’s side the lead just before halftime.
Chelsea’s control continued after the break, forcing Norwich to play on the counterattack, but with neither side creating too many opportunities, a bag of goals never looked likely.
The first half was a very tightly contested affair, but Norwich looked promising, stringing together a good number of passes in the Chelsea half, but the visitors’ defense remained solid.
Around the half-hour mark, Chelsea began to take control as Mata started to get himself involved a little more, but the Blues were still struggling to create chances with Norwich defending well.
However, in the 38th minute Oscar did well to retain possession in the center before finding Mata on the edge of the box, and the Spaniard smashed an effort into the far side of the net to open the scoring.
Bradley Johnson saw a near-post header go just over a few minutes later, but Chelsea went into halftime with a 1-0 lead which it probably deserved.
The second half just seemed to carry on from the first period as Chelsea controlled possession and looked comfortable, knocking the ball around in a confident manner, while Norwich attempted to spring counterattacks.
Hoolahan seemed Norwich’s best bet of getting back into the game, but often the only pass on for him was forward to Grant Holt, but either the Chelsea defense would halt the forward, or he strayed offside.
The visitors continued to control the match, but for all their possession they could not get past the Norwich defense, much like the hosts in the first period.
Benitez’s decision to introduce Lampard and Hazard helped create a bit more dynamism in the final third and Mata could have got his second as he headed just wide from an Azpilicueta cross. It mattered not in the end, as the Blues picked up their third straight league win.
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