Norwich fought back in the second half to level the score, but Chelsea win the day as substitutes Eden Hazard and Willian score quickfire goals late to give Jose Mourinho his first away win of the season at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Chelsea fans will be breathing a sigh of relief after it looked they’d be once again held in check away from Stamford Bridge.
The visitors struck early to stun Norwich and set the tone. The third minute saw a fantastic long ball from behind the mid line find the feet of Ba in the box. The striker brilliantly pirouetted and laid off to Oscar who couldn’t miss the far corner.
The Brazilian’s hot start to the season continues as he picked up his fourth goal of the season in all competitions.
Ba nearly grabbed Chelsea’s second in the 13th minute from a very tight angle but Norwich keeper John Ruddy made a diving save to deny. The English netminder is seeking to impress his international boss Roy Hodgson in order to take advantage of fellow countryman Joe Hart’s poor form and see a chance in the upcoming qualifiers.
The Senegalese striker proved an imposing physical presence early, something Chelsea has been missing up front to start the year. His strength and skill on the ball will certainly have impressed Jose Mourinho, who is looking for consistency up front.
Norwich, however, slowly worked to press back into the game, and finished the first half strong in the attacking half.
They continued their good play into the second half, and it nearly paid dividends early. In the 59th minute, the ball came in from the midfield to Robert Snodgrass at the top of the box, whose first touch popped over to van Wolfswinkel in the middle. The Dutch striker attempted to get to the ball, but John Terry’s physical challenge prevented him from doing so. Van Wolfswinkel appealed for a penalty, but referee Neil Swarbrick waved off the shouts.
They would be vindicated in the 68th minute when Anthony Pilkington brought them level. The ball came into the right side of the box, and with the flick of his head van Wolfswinkel did well to direct it into a dangerous area. Pilkington was there waiting, and beat David Luiz in the air – not a small task – to head home past Cech.
The goal opened things up a bit, but the Norwich defense clamped down and held as Chelsea could muster few serious chances to go back ahead. Things were looking bleak until the 85th minute, when the Canaries did eventually break to the fresh legs off the Chelsea bench.
First, Eden Hazard came on for an injured Ashley Cole after the equalizer, and it proved dividends. Again, a long ball on the counter did the trick, this time in the 85th minute. Oscar, playing on the wing much of the night as he rotated with Juan Mata, played in Hazard who beat Alexander Tettey back and got the ball to trickle over the line after Ruddy got a touch.
The lead was solidified just a single minute later, when Willian opened his Premier League account with a stunning curling effort from outside the box, leaving Ruddy with no chance and Chelsea with a 3-1 lead.
The win propels Chelsea up into third place for the time being, with Arsenal and Tottenham still to play. For Norwich, they will be ruing not maintaining a hold on the point it took them much of the match to recover, and they remain in 17th place with seven points.
Norwich City – Pilkington 68′
Chelsea – Oscar 4′, Hazard 85′, Willian 86′
Norwich City – Ruddy; Martin, Bassong, Turner, Olsson; Howson, Tetty, Fer; Pilkington, Snodgrass (Redmond, 81′); van Wolfswinkel (Hooper, 73′).
Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole (Hazard, 75′); Ramires, Lampard; Oscar, Mata (Willian, 81′), Schurrle; Ba (Eto’o, 73′).