Following their latest triumph, 3-1 over Leicester City on Wednesday, the 2014-15 Premier League title is so close that Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea players can practically taste it. As has been the case for much of the season, it was the prettiest performance from Mourinho’s Blues, but it was more than enough to get the job done.
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A pair of first-half substitutes necessitated by injuries — midfielder Andy King (19th minute) and defender Robert Huth (24th) — put Leicester behind the eight-ball from very early on, not only for Wednesday’s clash with league-leading Chelsea, but more so Saturday’s massive relegation battle against Newcastle United (Watch live on NBCSN an online via Live Extra, 7:45 am ET).
Leicester had a series of chances fall their way, in extremely quick succession, in the 40th minute. Petr Cech made a sprawling save of Paul Konchesky’s low, near-post shot, which was followed by a goal-mouth scramble where two more shots were blocked and snuffed out by Chelsea defenders.
Leicester’s breakthrough came with seconds remaining in first-half stoppage time, when Jamie Vardy’s left-sided cross eluded two Chelsea defenders at the top of the six-yard box and found Marc Albrighton, who slotted his first-time effort low and inside the far post, beating Cech for a 1-0 lead.
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Leicester’s lead was short-lived, though, as Chelsea’s equalizer came shortly after the second-half restart. Branislav Ivanovic got the end line, cut the ball back to Didier Drogba near the corner of the six, and Drogba wrapped his right foot around the ball and guided it inside the same far post in which Albrighton had scored minutes earlier.
Leicester’s defense held firm the following half-hour, bending but not breaking, frequently seeing total relief in the form of chances created at the other end of the field. But the draw wasn’t meant to be for Nigel Pearson’s side, as John Terry broke the deadlock in the 79th minute. Gary Cahill flicked Cesc Fabregas’s corner kick to the far post, but Kasper Schmeichel made the save, only to see John Terry poke home the rebound from two yards out.
The goal was Terry’s 38th Premier League tally, tying the David Unsworth’s record for most PL goals scored by a defender.
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The scoreline became extremely unflattering on Leicester just four minutes later, as Ramires hammered home powerful effort from just outside the penalty area, a swerving shot that Schmeichel had no chance to save.
With the three points, Chelsea move ever closer to clinching this year’s Premier League title, something they can do at Stamford Bridge with a victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday (Watch live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra, 8:30 am ET). As for Leicester, they hold a one-point lead on Sunderland, who currently occupy the final relegation place and have a game in hand.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Wasilewski, Huth (De Laet 24′), Morgan, Albrighton, King (James 19′), Cambiasso, Drinkwater, Konchesky, Vardy (Mahrez 77′), Ulloa
Goals: Albrighton (45+3′)
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic, Willian (Zouma 84′), Fabregas (Mikel 90′), Hazard (Cuadrado 88′), Drogba
Goals: Drogba (48′), Terry (79′), Ramires (83′)