Chelsea 3-1 Everton: Chelsea sweet on Toffees as AVB breaks jinxs
Chelsea brought their 4 year win-less streak against Everton to an end yesterday as they ran out 3-1 winners at Stamford Bridge. The last time the hosts had beaten the Toffees on their own turf was in 2006 under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, however two first half goals from the in-form Daniel Sturridge and captain John Terry, who was making his 350th appearance for Chelsea, put the Blues in a commanding position. The Brazilian Ramires made it three after a quick break away on the hour mark sealing a win which never really seemed in much doubt, despite a late consolation from Everton substitute Apostolos Vellios.
The fact that Chelsea were up against their “bogey team” was a secret that Britain’s media failed to keep hidden- coming into this game Chelsea had only won once in nine games against David Moyes men who have always defended exceptionally well at the Bridge. But Andre Villas-Boas’ side were in good form before last weeks international fixtures, and he put the onus on his new boys to show the old guard that there was nothing to fear against the Merseysiders.
With Fernando Torres suspended, Villa-Boas put faith in Sturridge who has made a goal-scoring start to the season with three goals in five starts. Juan Mata also kept his place in the side having won himself plenty of admirers up and down the the country for his performances. With the visitors touted to set-up in ultra-defensive fashion, it was a little surprising that the games first attacking endeavours came from Everton.
Tim Cahill, so often the Chelsea tormentor in recent seasons, had an early headed effort that won no prizes for accuracy. His attacking partner, Louis Saha who also has an impressive record of five goals in his last six appearances against Chelsea, also had an early effort from long-range. The Frenchman however failed to pack any punch into the strike and Chelsea keeper Petr Cech gathered comfortably.
With those early scares out of the way, Chelsea started to make ends of their own. A rather wild Ramires shot from 20 yards was all the home side offered in the first half an hour, as Everton’s defensive game-plan to invite Chelsea onto their penalty box while restricting them space to play resulted in a stodgy stalemate. That was until Chelsea’s newest recruit and chief mischief-maker Mata picked out Ashley Cole on the left-side of the area. The England full-back had stolen a yard on Seamus Coleman and his first time cross was met by Sturridge who was quickest to react in the box, heading in from close range.
A collective sigh of relief reverberated through the Bridge and owner Roman Abramovich’s toothy grin seemed to say “at last”. The goal had the impact of settling those nerves both on pitch level and on the stands, whilst deflating Everton’s belief. The home side continued to monopolise possession with Mata again demonstrating his worth: precise in the pass, graceful on the ball and innovative in attack. There is little wonder now why the little Spaniard was so much in demand during the summer.
Chelsea then doubled their lead with what was almost the last kick of the half. Coleman was penalised for a late tackle on Cole and Lampard delivered into the box for Terry to jump highest, beating Marouane Fellaini in the process as he headed into an near empty net. Questions will be raised about keeper Tim Howards judgment as he came and got no where near the ball, but it was the perfect finish to the half and only dealt an even harder blow to Everton’s confidence going into the dressing room.
Moyes clearly gave his side a dressing-down during the interval as they nearly pulled a goal back moments after the restart. The tricky Leon Osman found space among a crowd of Blue shirts to curl an effort low to Cech’s left who looked on gratefully as it struck the post and trickled out for a goal-kick. That proved to be a wake-up call for Chelsea who had plenty of players all too aware that Everton are never quite down and out.
Coleman was eventually replaced for loan signing Royston Drenthe whilst Tim Cahill made way for Phil Neville. With Fellaini pushed higher up the pitch, it seemed obvious what Everton’s plan was: deliver to the tall guy. And whilst Everton threw men forward, Chelsea found more room to exploit on the counter. Didier Drogba regained possession on the half-way line, finding Mata in space on the left. The Spaniard executed an inch perfect cross for Ramires to slide in unmarked at the back post.
At 3-0 the game appeared to be won. Vellio’s provided a scare with 10 minutes remaining as he converted with his first touch from a Drenthe cross having only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds. But it would not deny Chelsea victory, and even more pleasing for the home support a victory that was long overdue.
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