5th of December 2015

Late goal ends Blue’s three-game unbeaten run (0-1)

December begins with disappointment as a late Bournemouth goal ended the Blues’ run of three games unbeaten. Jose Mourinho’s men had the chances to be in the lead well before then but found the Cherries' goalkeeper Artur Boruc in good form. His first-half saves from Eden Hazard and Pedro especially stood out.

The South Coast side had threatened too in the early stages and were denied on a couple of occasions by saves from the returning Thibaut Courtois, but as the second half progressed and the Blues pressed for the opener, with a strong penalty shout for handball not given, the visitors seemed happy to play for a draw. That was until a late corner led to the unexpected breakthrough. Former Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray, who was in an offside position, headed in from close range.

When the team sheets had been handed in earlier in the afternoon, the major news was that Courtois was not only back in the squad for the first time since the final game of August, he was straight back into the starting line-up. Having been pleased with the showing at Spurs last Sunday, Jose Mourinho retained Eden Hazard as his central striker and left the midfield five untouched.

Baba Rahman in for Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back was the only other change. Diego Costa would be brought off the bench for the second half.

Hopes were high coming into this tea-time encounter following two wins and last weekend’s credible draw at White Hart Lane, and this match began a busy month containing four of the six matches at home.

Following kick-off Hazard was found twice in space down the right-hand channel inside the first two minutes, the first occasion by Oscar, the second by Willian with that one resulting in a shot beaten out by Boruc.

Bournemouth, like Chelsea, had made a change in goal. They were able to bring back the Polish international, which was fortuitously timed given the injury to Adam Federici in their draw with Everton last time out.

The initial bright start by the Blues continued until Hazard, back in his own half, was bustled off the ball which was crossed low in front of Courtois’s goal. Junior Stanislas fired at the target. Cahill was fortunately in the right place to block.

Courtois had to save from Stanislas with Nemanja Matic getting in the way of a follow-up effort from centre-forward Joshua King. The powerful Norwegian was denied shortly after by a near-post save from Courtois who claimed the corner that followed with imperious ease and to a big cheer.

The defence was under test and for a brief period there were concerns it would lose our England vice-captain to injury so early in the game. Cesar Azpilicueta warmed up with purpose but after treatment Cahill was able to continue.

It was time for a home side attack and Hazard sent a ball over from the left that was not too far ahead of the sprinting Willian.

Pedro was shown the yellow card for a tackle from behind on Harry Arter inside the centre-circle with the half approaching the midway point. There was very soon a booking back the other way for a similar offence on the Spaniard by Andrew Surman.

Pedro turned an Ivanovic ball wide soon after but the game had become for the most part scrappy.

Quality was on show when Pedro set Hazard away on the right and he hared down the middle for any return. Instead the Belgian blasted at goal from distance and Boruc had to stretch down to his left to make a diving save. A good effort and a good stop.

Courtois made another save from King and Bournemouth shot over from distance before Pedro forced Boruc into another finger-tip save. It was a shot with little back lift that looked to be creeping just inside the post.

The chances were now coming. The Chelsea movement was better. Oscar was denied at the near post after a clever supply from Pedro but the game remained scoreless as the half-time whistle blew. Could Boruc continue to be such an effective barrier for the whole game? Could the Blues conjure some absolute gilt-edged chances?

Diego Costa came on for the restart with Oscar taken off but it was Bournemouth with the first go-for-goal, Matt Ritchie drawing gasps from the away fans behind the Shed End net as he fired not very far past it from 25 yards.

Willian and Pedro moved the ball at pace on 52 minutes but a diving header sent a cross behind for a corner. That was initially cleared but when Willian’s crossed skimmed off a head and came quickly to Matic, sporting a mask on a nose broken in two places by Erik Lamela’s arm at Tottenham, the Serbian could not keep his header down.

This was now real pressure on the Cherries defences and the ball was hacked clear in front of goal after Cahill flicked on a corner. Ivanovic’s deflected cross was saved by Boruc and the corners kept coming.

On 61 minutes Fabregas drilled the ball forward for Diego Costa to stretch his legs down the left of the pitch. As he went to cross, Simon Francis slid to block and the ball struck the defender’s trailing arm which was on the turf. The claims went up for a penalty but nothing given. Diego Costa was booked soon after for pulling down Ritchie.

Bournemouth, with plenty behind the ball but missing Sylvain Distin for the first time this season due to illness, were remaining a stubborn obstacle as the game entered the final 20 minutes. Fabregas’s vision nearly opened them up with a quick ball into space for Ivanovic but his cross was too high for Diego Costa.

Another ball from our right-back moments later somehow just evaded both Pedro and Diego Costa when it seemed someone was certain to get the killer touch.

It was all one-way traffic now and a lob over the defence from Fabregas was sent goalwards by Diego Costa at full stretch but Boruc saved.

Then after 81 minutes came the goal. It had been a while since the away side had been down our end but they won a corner which Courtois got a fist to but not much distance on his punch. Ivanovic could not quite get to the loose ball first to clear and instead it came back in towards the far post where recent substitute Murray, from what was an offside position with Courtois out of his goal, headed in.

Following the goal, Ritchie shot wide from just outside the area and Arter had a closer-range effort deflected wide with the Blues unable to create any clear chances to equalise. A Remy run and cut-back which was cleared was the closest we came.

Now we must regroup quickly for the vital Champions League group decider when Porto visit on Wednesday.

- Match stats:

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic (c), Zouma, Cahill, Baba (Traore 83); Fabregas (Remy 83), Matic; Willian, Oscar (Diego Costa h-t), Pedro; Hazard.
Unused subs Begovic, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek.
Booked Pedro 21, Diego Costa 63.

Bournemouth (4-5-1): Boruc; Smith, Francis (c), Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Arter, Stanislas; King (Murray 80).
Unused subs Allsop, Cargill, Butcher, O'Kane, Kermorgant, Rantie.

Scorer Murray 82
Booked Surman 23

Referee Mike Jones
Crowd 41,631

- Match report by chelseafc.com

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