Burnley hold tight to Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
It was a tale of two cities as Chelsea looked to keep up their title quest while Burnley continued their fight against relegation in a crunch match at the capital during February. Thibaut Courtois was called into action on three minutes, to push away a corner from the Clarets’ Kieran Trippier. But the Blues responded a minute later, when from a delivery by Filipe Luis in a central area of the park, Juan Cuadrado was razor sharp with a header that Tom Heaton had to acrobatically tip over. Burnley made a bright start to the game, and when Blues captain, John Terry, tried to shepherd the ball clear, Ashley Barnes latched onto the clearance with a well timed volley which was picked up by Courtois. Although it was Chelsea that took the lead on fourteen minutes, as Cuadrado won the ball off Michael Kightly on the right flank and as Eden Hazard weaved his way into the area, Branislav Ivanovic was at the right place at the right time, to turn the ball in. Within a minute, Hazard was creator again, as Oscar’s testing strike was scrambled away by Heaton, before central defender, Ben Mee, hooked the ball clear. On seventeen minutes, the Clarets captain, Jason Shackell, had a free header from Trippier’s corner, but he miss timed his connection as the ball flew wide. Midway through the first half, Barnes tried to outwit Courtois again with a low drive but the Blues shot stopper was equal to it. On thirty one minutes, from Ivanovic’s fierce strike, the ball hit the back of Kightly’s hand, but the penalty appeal was turned away. Two minutes later, from another Trippier corner , Courtois miss handled the ball but got lucky with the end result. Just before the break, Shackell pushed Diego Costa over in the area, but again the Blues had a penalty appeal not given. Five minutes into the re-start, following a clip on the heels of Danny Ings by Oscar, a well delivered free kick by Kightly, could not be cleared properly by Nemanja Matic, and the ball was met on the volley by Barnes, which required Courtois to tip his effort over the crossbar. The Blues reacted within a minute, when from a Fabregas corner, Ivanovic won the header but Matic could not divert the ball in, as he squeezed his shot wide of the far post. In the fifty fourth minute, Chelsea pressed again as Hazard’s through ball was latched upon by Costa, before Heaton made an important stop. Three minutes later, a cross was whipped in from Ivanovic but the ball could not reach the outstretched leg of Costa. Just before the hour mark, this time from a Costa delivery, it was the turn of Cuadrado, who was unable to get the vital touch. Within a minute, another ball over from Luis, was too strong for Costa to convert. The Blues then changed Cuadrado with Willian. But on seventy minutes, Matic received a straight red card for reacting angrily to a challenge by Barnes and pushing him over by the scruff of his neck, while Ivanovic received a yellow card for trying to distract referee, Martin Atkinson. Chelsea then changed Oscar with Ramires. It was then the Clarets contesting a penalty, after ball to hand from Luis while challenged by Barnes. On seventy seven minutes, after a telling pass across the field by Fabregas, the ball was laid off from Hazard and a barn storner from Ramires was close to wrecking the goal, as his strike went wide. After the Clarets brought on Sam Vokes for Kightly, on seventy nine minutes, Courtois brought off a one handed save, when David Jones had given Barnes the chance to produce a low drive from the edge of the box. But it was a smash and grab by Burnley, when from Trippier’s corner, a well timed header by Mee, crashed into the net to bring the game back to all square on eighty minutes. Chelsea then brought on Gary Cahill for Costa, before Didier Drogba took over from Luis. In the eighty eighth minute, Fabregas blazed over from a knock down by Willian. But at the end from a George Boyd breakaway pass, Ings charged forward from inside his own half and could have sealed the game for the Clarets but he thrashed a shot past the target.