Blues crunch win against Toffees
Written By: Robert Halter
Blues latest new signing, midfielder Juan Cuadrado made his debut at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea also welcomed back Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, for a midweek confrontation in early February. In the opening minute, silky skills by Nemanja Matic left the Toffees unstuck, before he struck a shot over the crossbar. There was then a call for a penalty as the ball popped up on the arm of Everton’s Steven Naismith, while under the challenge of Cuadrado. Chelsea threatened again on five minutes, after Cesar Azpilicueta put the ball across to Willian, whose curling strike flew over the upright. But the Toffees broke two minutes later, when Ross Barkley set Lukaku free but the leg of Petr Cech, protected his goal and prevented the ball from going in. Within a minute, Craig Barry bent a ball wide of the right post, after Barkley had created space. But on nine minutes, Loic Remy gave Cuadrado the ammunition to score but he drilled his shot fractions past the far post. In the twelfth minute, Willian played a pass over to Azpilicueta, who sent over a left wing cross, and Remy then powered a header which the Toffees shot stopper, Tim Howard, pushed away to safety. On eighteen minutes, Azpilicueta’s delivery just evaded Eden Hazard, before the ball found the safe hands of Howard. But within a minute, Cuadrado put a pass through to Remy, who slid the ball wide of the left post, as the Blues pushed forward again. In the twenty seventh minute, as Lukaku brushed off Cuadrao, his follow up shot failed to trouble Cech. On thirty one minutes, Willian opened up the space for Hazard, but his shot only ruffled the feathers of Howard, who protected his perch. In the forty second minute, from a Willian corner, Blues captain, John Terry, forced his header over, from a good position in the area. Before the second half resumed, the Toffees replaced Muhamed Besic with James McCarthy. In the fifty fourth minute, Matic chipped the ball over to Branislav Ivanovic, but his header was clasped upon by Howard. On the hour mark, Hazard carved an opening, as he weaved past Naismith and Bryan Oviedo, but in his final flurry, Howard blocked his path to goal. Two minutes later, after Aaron Lennon clipped Ramires on the edge of the box, Matic delivered a curling free kick, which Howard had to claw away from the top right corner. But on sixty six minutes, Howard had more work to do, as he turned away at full stretch, Willian’s bending strike, after a ball across by Hazard. But two minutes later, from a ball over by McCarthy to Oviedo, the Blues were let off the hook, as from two yards out, Lukaku missed a sitter, as he placed his shot directly at Cech, who made a crucial double footed save. The Blues then brought on Didier Drogba for Remy and Cesc Fabregas for Cuadrado. While the Toffees soon changed Barkley with Darron Gibson and Lennon with Kevin Mirallas. In the seventy eighth minute, a mazy run by Lukaku, gave Mirallas the space to roam ahead but his dipping long range strike, cannoned over the top of the crossbar. After Willian was brushed aside by a shoulder barge by Lukaku, a foul was committed, as McCarthy then steamed into Willian to put him in the touch line, but Willian tried to have the final as his free kick was punched clear by Howard, in the eighty third minute. Three minutes later, Matic had a goal disallowed, after he steered the ball into the far corner from twenty five yards out, but the ball deflected off Ivanovic in an offside position and the flag was raised. But the game changed in the eighty eighth minue, when Barry was sent off with a second yellow, as having already been booked for an earlier infringement on Cuadrado, he received a red card after a rash challenge on Willian and from the resulting Fabregas free kick, a header from Ivanovic was pushed out by Howard, and from outside the box, the ball was timed to perfection by Willian, with a sweet strike into the bottom right corner which was aided by a deflection off Naismith. Before the end, match winner, Willian made way for Gary Cahill.