It was a game filled with emotions, relief and pleasure at scoring three goals Chelsea scored, but anger at Chelsea’s lacklustre performance overall (though the score line suggests something different).
Then there was fear when Drogba injured his head, and finally delight for Mata’s debut goal as Chelsea overcame Norwich 3-1 after a determined performance from the Blues in the 2nd half.
It was a walk in the park for Chelsea in the opening few minutes as the Blues capitalized on Norwich’s bleak start when they scored in the 6th minute. The goal came from an unlikely source of Jose Bosingwa, who scored with a stunning effort from 25 yards.
Chelsea were cruising in the first fifteen minutes with the 70-30 possession, but things rapidly changed after that as Norwich started attacking. Hilario was forced to make a couple of saves, one from Holt who headed the ball straight into him, and another from Hoolahan who shot from 30 yards out.
The Blues had two poor free kicks, one each from Drogba and Lampard added to the frustration of the Chelsea fans as Chelsea had an unconvincing lead 1-0 at half-Time.
Things looked better in the second half as Chelsea created a few chances in the opening minutes and would have been 2-0 up had Drogba intercepted a teasing cross from Malouda.
Things remained the same until the hour mark, when mix-up between Ivanovic and Hilario, saw the defender head away from his stranded keeper and fall to Holt who scored a spectacular goal, as he lobbed the ball over his head into an empty net to make the game 1-1.
Seven minutes of stoppage soon followed, as Drogba was knocked unconscious in the air by a punch from Norwich Goalkeeper Ruddy who was trying to clear the ball. The punch, which was clearly unintentional, knocked Drogba out before he had hit the ground – A stunned Stamford Bridge crowd stood silent, helplessly watching the medical team treat Drogba.
The Stamford Bridge crowd ruptured will applause as Drogba was stretchered-off. Whilst being treated, Mata came on to an excellent reception as he replace Malouda and then as the Ivorian was carried off Anelka replaced him.
Chelsea looked close to going 2-1 down when Morison had a clear chance, but held onto the ball for too long and captain John Terry got back and cleared the ball.
Mata, immediately showed his class as he put in a dangerous ball from the left flank, which was met by his countryman Torres with a flicked header, and which forced a save from Ruddy.
In the 80th minute, Ramires made a scintillating run into the box, and as tapped the ball past the onrushing Ruddy, the keeper had already committed himself and brought down the Brazilian. Ruddy received his marching orders and Lampard duly converted the penalty past substitute keeper Rudd.
Things were never going to get any easier for Norwich after being down to 10 men, and Chelsea then brought on debutant Lukaku, who replaced Torres. Within no time he showed his skill, as he beat two defenders before getting in a scuffed shot that was saved – Lukaku looked sharp and hungry for the ball in the 17 minutes he played.
While Branislav Ivanovic missed an easy header in the 90th minute which would have guaranteed the three points, there was no need to worry as Mata capitalised on a misplaced pass from De Laet in the 101st minute and finished coolly slipped the ball past Rudd.
In the end, it was not the most convincing win, but it was another three points, that most would say Chelsea deserved.
by Abhishek Easwaran