Chelsea came from behind to beat a resurgent Leicester City 3-1 to go within one win of their first Premier League title for five years.
The visitors, who went behind late in the first-half thanks to Albrighton’s calm effort, were brutal in their second half as Drogba, Terry and Ramires wrapped up the points. It means the Blues can be league champions in four days’ time.
But if Chelsea thought they would canter to the title here tonight, there were in for a nasty surprise, particularly in the first half.
Leicester started with such intent and this set the tone for the remainder of the match. The first warning sign came when Cambiasso fed a delicious through ball which evaded Terry’s head. Ulloa would have been clean through had his touch been better.
Where Chelsea had a chance, it usually came through Drogba, who often fluffed his lines. Though in the right positions, the Ivorian is no longer the powerhouse of yesteryear. Willian countered superbly and his pull back to Drogba was brilliant, but the 37-year-old took an age to sort his feet out and in the end he still could not, with a tame shot on goal.
Hazard caused some moments of panic when he cut inside, either from the right-wing in on his left or the left-wing in on his favoured right foot, but Leicester usually had enough men back to stick to their disciplined structure, even if two of their key men had to be replaced early in the game due to injury.
But the game started to come to life late in the first half. An atypically confused melee inside the Chelsea box saw Konchesky sneak in a shot which was destined for the bottom corner. Cech, with his vision impeded by Ramires, did superbly to get a strong hand to it, but the ball was fed back in and after more attempts by Cambiasso and Albrighton, a combination of last-ditch blocks from Cahill and co saw Chelsea escape.
Not for long. Ivanovic tried very hard to keep the ball in play to not concede a throw-in, but it would only lead to conceding a goal. Vardy did well down the left and his pull back was good, but would have been snuffed out has Azpilicueta not slipped on the wet pitch. Instead, Albrighton was on hand to calmly side-foot it in on the stroke of half-time. It was the first time Chelsea had gone behind since the New Year’s Day loss to Tottenham.
Chelsea had to come out strongly in the second-half, and any mentality of snatching a 1-0 score-line before the game had to be quickly adjusted.
Drogba scored the equaliser to record his first goal in 20 appearances, swiveling and latching onto an Ivanovic cut-back quite superbly.
But he had an even better chance just 60 seconds later to give Chelsea the lead for the first time in the game, skying high when free around the penalty spot.
Willian raced down the right in the third of quick Chelsea chances, and Fabregas made contact at the end of Willian’s cross, but not enough to divert it goalwards. It was a frentic Chelsea start and Mourinho’s half-time team-talk must have certainly woken a few up.
But sometimes you need adversity to bring your A-game. After all, the competition in the league has not be so strong this season.
But trust the old guard. Drogba for the equaliser, Terry for the winner. Ramires for the icing on the cake.
Fabregas’ corner in the 79th minute was flicked on by Cahill and that brought a stunning save from Schmeichel, but Terry was on hand to karate-kick in.
It got better. Fabregas pulled back for Ramires to run onto and hit first time with his left foot. It flew into the top corner and the best thing of the goal was Mourinho was close to missing it because he was shining his shoes no less. Talk about priorities, but the game was won.
It is within touching distance.
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Man of the Match
WILLIAN: In a season where another play-maker has taken most of the headlines in Hazard, it must be noted Willian has more than put in his fair share of work, albeit more under the radar. The Brazilian was superb tonight, and the key man to reinvigorate Chelsea’s charge in the game in the second half, bombing down the right wing and wreaking havoc. He more than deserves his Premier League medal. 8/10
Mourinho was a proud man: “It is phenomenal what they are doing, top of the league since day one is not easy. April was the month that we destroyed opponents. We won every game except the draw against Arsenal so I’m very pleased. Now we just need three more points. I know exactly what we are. We are what every team would like to be.”
Pearson had kind words to offer too: “I take my hat off to them. I find it bemusing [that people think Chelsea are boring]. They are a great team and know how to win games. If you’re going to win and be successful, it doesn’t matter what other people think. Chelsea are deserved champions.”