10th of May 2018

Blues are held 1-1 at home to Huddersfield

A frustrating night at Stamford Bridge ended with the Blues having to settle for a point as we came from behind to draw 1-1 with Huddersfield having dominated the game.

Both goals arrived in the second half, with Marcos Alonso cancelling out Laurent Depoitre's opener for the visitors, but it was an evening on which Antonio Conte’s side should have taken all three points as Toni Rudiger, on two separate occasions, and Andreas Christensen went close.

The result moves us to within two points of Liverpool, meaning our hopes of finishing in the top four remain alive, but a win at Newcastle on Sunday is imperative, while we will need Jurgen Klopp’s side to lose at home to Brighton.

There were six changes made to the side which beat Liverpool, the first of which coming in goal as Willy Caballero replaced Thibaut Courtois, who missed out due to a back injury.

There was one change to the defence, with Christensen coming back into the starting line-up and Gary Cahill dropping down to the bench, while Davide Zappacosta started at right wing-back.

Willian and Pedro were also handed starts with the duo tasked with playing either side of striker Alvaro Morata, who replaced Olivier Giroud up front. Eden Hazard was among the subs.

Jonas Lossl, the Huddersfield goalkeeper, was called into action after just five minutes when he saved well at his near post to deny Alonso, who had brought down a crossfield ball from Cesar Azpilicueta and fired powerfully towards goal.

Three minutes later and it was Willian’s turn to go close, the Brazilian shifting away from his marker with a trademark burst of pace and fizzing a low drive just past the far post as we looked to gain an early advantage in the contest.

It was a positive start by the Blues, who were going in search of a fifth consecutive Premier League win, and we should have taken the lead in the 11th minute when Rudiger, with the goal at his mercy, volleyed wide after Azpilicueta had headed a Cesc Fabregas corner towards goal.

N’Golo Kante then produced a wonderful piece of skill down the left-hand side, reminiscent of Gianfranco Zola’s famous moment against Liverpool in 2003, leaving a trail of defenders, who were trying to get at him from all sides, in his wake. The ball eventually ran out of play and behind for a goal-kick but the home fans were quick to show their appreciation for the Frenchman’s efforts.

While it was Chelsea dominating the ball, and looking the more threatening, Huddersfield were slowly growing into the game and as the 25-minute mark ticked by it remained goalless.The visitors were defending with all 10 outfield players behind the ball when we were in possession, making it difficult for the likes of Willian, Pedro and Fabregas to exert their creative influence on proceedings.

A sweeping Morata volley, from a Fabregas cross, was well saved by Lossl as we continued to push for an opener but David Wagner’s side, as they had against Manchester City on Sunday, were standing firm and defending with organisation and discipline.

Five minutes before the break their stubborn backline was prised open as Kante slipped Morata through, the striker did well to turn away from Christopher Schindler but as he rounded Lossl the angle proved too tight for him to get a shot at goal and his pass across the six-yard box evaded everybody, allowing Huddersfield to clear.

Pedro saw a left-footed effort from the edge of the box charged down in added time at the end of the half, and the Chelsea players were frustrated as the referee blew for half-time having signalled for a corner, which he didn’t allow us to take. As the two teams headed in for the break there was nothing to separate them.

Having been on top for the majority of the first half, just five minutes after the restart we found ourselves behind in the contest.

Rudiger had met a Willian free-kick and headed over the bar from a good position, and when a driving run by the Brazilian was brought to a halt moments later, a lofted ball over the top by Aaron Mooy put Depoitre through on goal. Caballero raced off his line and saved the initial strike, injuring himself in the process, but as the loose ball sat up invitingly for the Huddersfield striker he was left with the simple task of tapping into the back of the net.

Conte responded by introducing Giroud for Zappacosta, and minutes later the French striker was followed on to the pitch by Hazard, much to the delight of the home fans, who replaced Pedro, and almost immediately we were back on level terms.

Hazard, out on the left, played it inside to Fabregas, who then switched it outside to Azpilicueta. The Spaniard’s first-time cross was a teasing one and as Mathias Jorgensen cleared, the ball bounced off the head of Alonso and into the corner of the net.

There was undoubtedly an welement of fortune about our leveller but crucially we were back in the game with just under half an hour remaining.

Philip Billing dragged a strike wide for the visitors on the break as gaps began to open up due to the way in which we were committing men forward in a bid to chase a potential winner.

Only Christensen and Rudiger were staying back when we had the ball, with Azpilicueta and Alonso pushed right up high on either flank.

Willian smashed a delivery across the face of goal, with the pace of the ball taking it beyond both Giroud and Morata, but still we continued to press.

With eight minutes left on the clock it looked as though we had turned the game on its head when Christensen, at the end of a frantic goalmouth scramble, headed towards goal, but somehow Lossl got his fingertips to it and diverted the ball against the post.

Hazard flashed a low drive wide from the edge of the penalty area and Lossl was shown a yellow card for taking too long over his goal kicks, before thwarting Morata.

Six minutes of added time were signalled and the home fans responded by roaring their side forward, but we were unable to find a way through and ultimately had to settle for a point.

We now must win at Newcastle on Sunday and hope Brighton can emerge from Anfield with all three points to preserve our hopes of playing Champions League football next season.

 

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Zappacosta (Giroud 53), Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Pedro (Hazard 57).

Unused subs: Eduardo, Cahill, Moses, Bakayoko, Barkley.
Scorers Alonso 62.

Huddersfield (5-3-2): Lossl; Smith (c (Malone 84)), Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe (Hadergjonaj 62); Hogg, Billing, Mooy; Van La Parra (Pritchard 52), Depoitre.

Scorers Depoitre 50
Booked Lossl 86

Referee Lee Mason
Crowd 38,910

- Match report by chelseafc.com



 


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