LONDON — Chelsea beat Everton 1-0 at a sunny Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as a stoppage time strike sealed a crucial three points for the Blues.
For large swathes of the game Chelsea looked sluggish as Everton played well on the counter-attack but succumbed to a late, late goal, as Frank Lampard’s free kick saw John Terry dive in just in front of U.S. international ‘keeper Tim Howard and the ball somehow found the back of the net.
Later the goal was credited as a Howard own-goal, as Chelsea rallied to seal a fantastic win deep into stoppage time.
Everton twice went close through Leon Osman in both halves and Chelsea’s other chances fell to Ramires, Samuel Eto’o and Branislav Ivanovic, but Howard pulled off some superb stops as Everton frustrated Chelsea for much of the game.
Chelsea tried hard to break Everton down, and the clinching moment came right at the death to break Everton’s hearts.
With the win Chelsea remain top of the PL standings on 60 points and now sit four points ahead of Arsenal in second. As for Everton, they remain in sixth spot on 45 points.
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Early in the game Chelsea started off on the front foot, as Brazilian winger Willian cut in from the left but dragged his shot wide in the 3rd minute. But Everton had a great chance of their own in the 7th minute, as Leighton Baines whipped in a great cross that Chelsea skipper John Terry did well to clear.
The match was even for most of the first half, and Everton grew into things. Osman almost put the Toffees 1-0 up after 11 minutes, as the midfielder rifled in an effort on goal that Petr Cech did well to tip over. Everton kept pressing, as Kevin Mirallas went close but his shot was superbly blocked by Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.
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Everton were certainly forcing the issue throughout the first half, as Chelsea’s midfield were losing the battle as Barry, Osman and McCarthy bossed the game. Chelsea tried to get going before the break but a tame effort from Cesar Azpilicueta and a Samuel Eto’o snap shot was all they had to show for their efforts.
At the break Chelsea made one change, as Oscar was replaced by Ramires, with the Blues eager to go at Everton in the second half.
The home side had plenty of half chances, as Terry’s header from a corner was cleared and Eto’o and Hazard started to come into the game more, but Everton contained Chelsea’s advances. Everton rallied after withholding that pressure and in the 58th minute Osman’s curling low effort was tipped wide by Cech as the Toffees came close to taking the lead.
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For the rest of the second half Chelsea pushed forward in search of the game-winner and brought on Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle to try and bring their offense to life. But it was Everton who looked the more likely to grab a winner on the break.
However Chelsea’s late goal sealed the win deep into stoppage time, as Stamford Bridge erupted.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Matic; Willian (Torres, 62), Oscar (Ramires, 45), Hazard, Eto’o (Schurrle, 69)
Goal: Own goal – Tim Howard (90)
Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar (McGeady, 80), Osman (Barkley, 63), Mirallas (Deulofeu, 75) Naismith