?Chelsea left it late to snatch all three points that looked more than unlikely for 80 minutes of their 2-1 victory over Cardiff on Sunday, proving once more that they are the masters of the late show.
The Bluebirds had frustrated the visitors throughout the first half at the Cardiff City Stadium before opening the scoring in stunning fashion through an excellent Victor Camarasa strike, piling further pressure on Maurizio Sarri amid growing discontent in the away end.
?Chelsea fans were calling for the Italian’s head as the Blues looked to be staggering to an eighth Premier League defeat of the season, but there was plenty of drama still to unfold in the final ten minutes and change the entire complexion of the game.
Cesar Azpilicueta’s headed effort from an offside position was allowed to stand, drawing Chelsea level in both unlikely and controversial fashion, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed the winner in stoppage time. According to ?Opta, Chelsea have now scored 18 goals in the final 15 minutes of Premier League matches this season, no club in the competition has managed more.
The late show stunned the stadium, broke the hearts of ?Cardiff fans, left Neil Warnock utterly enraged and surely did very little even to appease the disgruntled Chelsea fans.
The away supporters had audibly grown tired of the Blues’ lethargic play and a complete lack of elite-level cutting edge in attack but, in truth, Sunday’s game was not a far cry from the problems which have permeated the second half of Chelsea’s season.
Sarri made a run for his own back from the outset by omitting key men ?Eden Hazard and ?N’Golo Kante from the starting XI, whilst rising star Callum Hudson-Odoi was also left out against the pre-match demands of many Blues fans.
The performance at the Cardiff City Stadium did very little to vindicate Sarri’s bold selections, and the stroke of luck required to haul Chelsea from behind and the Italian’s head clear of the chop was emblematic of the Blues’ struggles at a crossroads under his troubled reign.
The controversy and bitterness of a poor decision from the officials to allow Azpilicueta’s clearly offside equaliser to stand will dominate the post-match debates but, in reality, it was yet another alarming sign that Chelsea owed so much to such undeserved fortune.
Sarri’s side deserve credit for maintaining their charge until the death and snatching the stoppage-time winner against the odds, and against a backdrop of Neil Warnock berating anyone that would listen.
The blues may be kings of the late show, and many would argue the trait to be the sign of champions. However, in Chelsea’s case, it is more an indication of just how desperate the struggling giants have become under Sarri.