PL: Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City: Giroud lifts Chelsea into 3rd with a decisive header

Chelsea regain third-place with a narrow 1-0 win against relegated Norwich City at Stamford Bridge.

Olivier Giroud scored the only game with a header into the roof of the net on the cusp of half-time.

Norwich suffered an eighth successive league defeat, while Chelsea moved four points above Leicester City and Manchester United in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification.

Premier League champions Liverpool host Chelsea on June 22 and the Blues will conclude their campaign against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge.

The opening exchanges took on a familiar pattern with Chelsea squeezing the space on the pitch by composing a high defensive line. They controlled possession inside the opposing half and Marcos Alonso offered the most encouraging attacking outlet down the left channel.

Christian Pulisic tucked inside to facilitate his overlapping runs, while Willian did likewise to supply support for Cesar Azpilicueta on the opposite flank.

Norwich defended in a disciplined and organized fashion to stifle the attacking threat posed by Chelsea. Todd Cantwell and Onel Hernandez tracked back regularly to support their respective full-backs, although they lacked attacking options with Josip Drmic portraying an isolated figure as the solo striker.  

Olivier Giroud failed to apply a composed finish to an array of opportunities, while Pulisic could only find the side netting after Alonso drilled a low cross into the box.

Chelsea played at a slow tempo during the opening 30 minutes but increased the intensity just before the break. Pulisic drew a sensational fingertip save from Krul, who flicked the ball onto the crossbar, and Kurt Zouma also missed the target with a free header.

The Blues found the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time when Giroud netted his 84th Premier League goal. Pulisic casually side-stepped Cantwell and delivered an inch-perfect cross into the box, which Giroud headed into the roof of the net.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 14: Olivier Giroud of Chelsea scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Norwich City at Stamford Bridge on July 14, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Norwich were far more adventurous after the break but still lacked the quality to carve out any goal scoring opportunities. Cantwell looked the biggest attacking threat for the Canaries but their final pass prevented them from threatening Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Drmic looked out of his depth leading the line and Farke responded by making a triple change with little over 10 minutes remaining. He introduced Adam Idah and Teemu Pukki in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a point.

Chelsea barely reached first gear but still created the best chances of the second half. Cesar Azpilicueta floated a speculative strike just over the crossbar and Krul produced two excellent saves to thwart Pulisic and Alonso respectively.

Giroud had the best chance in the second half when he poked Willian’s low cross just wide of the far post with the challenge of Ben Godfrey narrowing the angle.

Willian also had a late chance for Chelsea when Krul sprawled to his right to palm his free-kick to safety with a magnificent save.


Teams

Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; C Azpilicueta, A Rudiger, K Zouma, M Alonso (R James 80′); R Loftus-Cheek (R Barkley 67’), Jorginho, M Kovacic; Willian, O Giroud (T Abraham 86′), C Pulisic (C Hudson-Odoi 80′).

Subs not used: W Caballero, A Christensen, Pedro, M Mount, F Tomori.

Norwich City (4-1-4-1): T Krul, M Aarons, B Godfrey, T Klose, J Lewis; A Tettey (A Idah 79′); O Hernandez (M Stiepermann 79′), K McLean L Rupp (J Martin 89′), T Cantwell (E Buendia 72′); J Drmic (T Pukki 79′).

Subs not used: M McGovern, M Vrancic, T Trybull, J Thomas.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: