- Chelsea go 3rd in PL, all but secure top-4 finish
- Loftus-Cheek, Luiz started 2H with quick-fire double
- Higuain added the 3rd (75′)
Chelsea hit Watford for three second-half goals and 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, sending themselves to third place in the Premier League in the process.
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With one game left to play, the Blues (71 points) have all but secured their place in the top-four and assured themselves of a return to the Champions League.
Sunday’s game didn’t start off so brightly for Chelsea, as Watford were first to threaten, but Kepa Arrizabalaga made one of the best saves of the season to deny Troy Deeney in the 8th minute. Jose Holebas’ cross came in from the left side and Deeney rose highest to get his head to the ball and loop it across the face of goal, but Arrizabalaga was quick to react and palm the ball away at full-stretch.
N'Golo Kante, the engine and master of Chelsea’s midfield, was forced off by an injury immediately thereafter.
Chelsea had an obvious claim for a penalty kick in the 30th minute, when Kiko Femenia wrapped his arms around David Luiz and drove him down to the ground. It was the Blues’ most threatening moment in the first half.
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The second half started much better, however, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who came on to replace Kante, broke the deadlock after just three minutes. Eden Hazard whipped a cross into the box and it was Loftus-Cheek who beat everyone else in the air and headed the ball down to beat Ben Foster.
Barely two minutes later, the Blues had their second courtesy of Luiz. Hazard sent the corner kick to the top of the six-yard box where Luiz, who lost his marker with terrifying ease, was completely unmarked and applied the finish.
Chelsea so nearly made it 3-0 with a pair of golden opportunities in the 58th minute. Pedro cut inside onto his left foot and looked to have beaten Foster to the far post, only to be denied at the very last moment. The rebound fell to Loftus-Cheek, but he put his follow-up effort inches wide.
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Gonzalo Higuain put the game to bed with a deft chip over Foster in the 75th minute. Pedro slipped a perfectly weighted through ball to Higuain, but there was still so much to be done from there. Foster was rushing out quickly and Higuain had the tightest of angles with which to work. The only path to goal was up and over.
Chelsea will wrap up their campaign with a trip to Leicester City next Sunday, while Watford will host West Ham United at Vicarage Road.