MATCH REPORT: CARDIFF CITY 1 CHELSEA 2

May 11, 2014 Posted Under: News

Summary
Second-half goals from Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres saw the Blues come from behind to end the season with a 2-1 win at Cardiff City.

After dominating the early part of the game we fell behind against the run of play when Craig Bellamy’s strike deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta to give the home side the lead.

Chances came and went in the first half, Torres and Oscar passing up the best of them, but the game swung in our favour after the break, with the introduction of Schurrle the catalyst.

The German equalised shortly after coming on, firing home after Azpilicueta had been denied by David Marshall, and soon after laid on the winner for Torres.

The season comes to an end in positive fashion, with more good news coming in the form of a first team debut for 18-year-old John Swift.

Team news
In the absence of John Terry and Frank Lampard, who missed the game through injury and illness respectively, Ashley Cole was handed the captain’s armband for the final game of the season. Tomas Kalas, meanwhile, made his second Chelsea start in central defence alongside Branislav Ivanovic.

John Mikel Obi returned to the side to partner Nemanja Matic in midfield, and there was a first start for Oscar since the defeat against Sunderland.

Torres was selected as the lone striker, while Swift was rewarded for a string of impressive displays for our Under-21s with a place on the substitutes’ bench.

Second half
The Blues went into the game knowing a victory, coupled with a Liverpool defeat, would see us finish second in the Barclays Premier League table, and we started on the front foot.

Oscar had what looked like a legitimate penalty claim waved away inside the opening minute when he produced a marvellous piece of skill to evade Ben Turner before going down inside the penalty area under the defender’s challenge. Referee Michael Oliver gave Turner the benefit of the doubt but a minute later we threatened again.

A mix-up in the Cardiff defence saw Torres and David Marshall challenge for the loose ball but, as the goalkeeper misjudged his kick, the Spaniard was clean through. He steadied himself and got the shot away, but the home side had Steven Caulker to thank for keeping the scores level as he got back and made the block with the ball heading into the back of the net.

Our attacking players had started the game brightly and Oscar was unlucky soon after when he sent a dipping strike just over the top of Marshall’s bar.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were condemned to Championship football for next season when they were beaten at Newcastle United last weekend, and they appeared to be lacking confidence early in the game, particularly in the final third, with the Chelsea defence seldom threatened and allowed to play out from the back.

Against the run of play, however, they took the lead in the 15th minute. Hazard was hustled off the ball in the Cardiff half and the ball was worked forward to Bellamy; the Chelsea defenders backed off and the Welshman fired towards goal, with his strike taking a wicked deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta, leaving Mark Schwarzer with no chance.

It was an undeserved lead for the hosts, and we looked to hit back instantly. A nice, intricate move on the edge of the box allowed Hazard the space to feed Mohamed Salah but the Egyptian, who failed to find a proper connection, could only steer his effort over the bar.

It was Chelsea dominating possession, and just before the half-hour mark approached another great chance went begging. Mikel picked the ball up just inside the Cardiff half, looked up and picked out the run of Oscar with a simple ball over the top of the static home defenders. The Brazilian was on to it quickly but as he fired towards goal the faintest of touches from Turner deflected it behind.

By this time it was virtually one-way traffic, although Cardiff did go close to extending their lead on one of their rare forays forward, Fraizer Campbell firing over the bar after evading a couple of challenges inside the Chelsea box.

Another chance to restore parity was passed up when Matic found Cole with an intelligent pass; the left-back helped it on, Hazard was able to add the faintest of touches but there was nobody on hand at the back post to apply the finishing touch.

Torres then did well to release Salah but as he waited for the return pass, the winger opted to go alone and blasted his strike over the bar.

The last chance of the first half again fell to Salah as a Hazard corner was headed into his path, but on this occasion a low drive fizzed inches wide.

As the players left the field of play at the break, there was plenty for Jose Mourinho to ponder.

Second half
The Blues emerged for the second half with the side unchanged, and it was Salah who threatened first, producing a lovely piece of skill to ease away from his man as he took a Matic pass in his stride, only to see his strike defected behind for a corner.

It was certainly a more purposeful start to the half, and Torres was unlucky not to draw us level when he turned quickly and fired narrowly wide.

There was more urgency in our attacking play, with Hazard, Oscar and Salah making the type of runs which defenders find difficult to track but, in truth, Marshall wasn’t being seriously tested often enough.

Andre Schurrle was introduced at the expense of Mikel shortly after Hazard had fired into the side-netting, a switch which saw Oscar revert into a deeper midfield role.

The Chelsea number 11 tested Marshall from outside the box as we looked to find a way back into the game and it soon came.

Oscar picked the ball up wide on the left and his cross found Azpilicueta, who had made fantastic run to get into the box. The defender’s header looked destined for the back of the net until Marshall produced a truly magnificent save low down to his left. Azpilicueta reacted quickest and fired the rebound against the bar but, as it landed at the feet of Schurrle the German showed great composure to equalise.

On the balance of play, it was no more than we deserved, and better was to come moments later when we took the lead.

Azpilicueta crossed from the right and although it was headed clear, Schurrle did well to help it back into the path of Torres, who made no mistake from close range.

Nathan Ake was handed his first appearance of the season when he replaced Salah 12 minutes from time, the young Dutchman slotting into midfield alongside Matic as we looked to close the game out.

Hazard was unlucky not to add a third when he arrived at the far post to meet a Schurrle cross, and with the clock ticking down Mourinho handed a Chelsea debut to Swift. The youngster has scored 18 goals from midfield for the Under-21s and Under-19s this season, with his involvement just reward for his displays across the younger age groups.

There were few chances to speak of late in the game, leaving Mouinho’s men to bring the curtain down on the campaign in positive fashion.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Kalas, Cole (c); Mikel (Schurrle 64), Matic; Salah (Ake 78), Oscar, Hazard (Swift 88) Torres.
Unused substitutes: Hilario, Cahill, David Luiz, Ake, Ba.
Scorers Schurrle 72, Torres 75
Booked Mikel 32

Cardiff City (4-4-1-1): Marshall; Fabio, Caulker (c), Turner, John; Gunnarsson, Mutch, Whittingham, Daehli (Cowie 66) Bellamy; Campbell (James 88)
Unused substitutes: Lewis; Eikrem, McNaughton, Berget, James, Healey.

Referee Michael Oliver

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