Match Report

Report: Chelsea 2 Burnley 2

At the end of a round of Premier League fixtures in which our rivals for the third and fourth spots in the Premier League all lost, the Blues were unable to capitalise fully after recovering from an early goal conceded but then letting the lead slip against our visitors from Lancashire.

Set-pieces proved our undoing. In an action-packed and entertaining first half, we went behind to a goal from Jeff Hendrick that followed a corner but scored two very well-worked strikes of our own, the first a fifth of the season for N’Golo Kante, the second fired in by Gonzalo Higuain. However a Burnley side looking for the last few points to guarantee their safety used their aerial ability from a free-kick to set up Ashley Barnes to make it 2-2, a set-back from which we could not recover despite plenty of time left to play in the game.

The second half began more quietly than the first but Chelsea steadily increased the pressure. However clear-cut chances were few despite the possession, a save from a Cesar Azpilicueta shot the closest we came.

Some of the Burnley tactics on the night led to raised tempers by the end, with Maurizio Sarri asked to leave the arena and a further confrontation in the tunnel mouth as players and staff departed the pitch.

Earlier in the game, Callum Hudson-Odoi had made the same journey due to an Achilles injury which could be serious, and Kante did not emerge for the second half due to a more minor knock to the ribs.

Sarri had handed in a team sheet with the same defence as played against Prague four days earlier, with Andreas Christensen continuing in the absence of injured Toni Rudiger, but he refreshed the midfield and attack to a degree. Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek returned in the centre of the park and upfront he fielded the recent first-choice front three of Eden Hazard and Hudson-Odoi flanking Higuain. Two of those would make a quick impact in the game, whereas the other would not complete the opening half.
 

It took less than two minutes for Hazard to force the first save. He had originally taken a corner but when the ball found its way back to the Belgian out there on the right, he wasted no time in driving it at the target. Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal blocked, but the ball remained loose. Loftus-Cheek unfortunately could not make the most of it.

Hazard was at the centre of our next good move too, with a magical chip over the Clarets defence that fell perfectly into the path of Higuain. The Argentinian did his part in lobbing it goalwards but former Chelsea Academy player Jack Cork acrobatically cleared it from the goal-line.
 

So a promising opening for the Blues, but then Burnley won a corner, and few are more dangerous from those. Cesar Azpilicueta headed the delivery clear, but unmarked Jeff Hendrick returned it with a stunning volley from the edge of the area which gave Kepa no chance. We were only in the eighth minute.

Happily, it only took four minutes to regain parity. Loftus-Cheek showed his power in making inroads and then Hazard twisted and turned and left Matthew Lowton on his backside before carefully picking out Kante, who lashed the ball in with the sweetest of strikes.
 

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Two minutes later we were in the lead with another skilful and spectacular goal. Jorginho fed the goalscorer Higuain who combined with Azpilicueta and received a delicious back-heel return pass from the full-back. He wasted no time in crashing the ball in off the crossbar. 2-1.
 

Loftus-Cheek went close to making it 3-1 with a curler but then Burnley scored again.

We had seen a combined five goals in the first 27 minutes on Thursday and now there had been four in 24 today. Burnley’s second equaliser came from a free-kick near halfway, delivered out wide. Two headers later and it was falling just right for Ashley Barnes to score from close range.

Hazard and Higuain both shot over and with each goal-kick that followed those efforts, Heaton delayed proceedings. The crowd and the Chelsea bench were not amused and when the goalie tried it a third time, out came the yellow card.

We lost Hudson-Odoi to injury before half-time, the problem occurring when the 18-year-old tried to control a dropping ball. Pedro was the natural replacement but Kante also went off at half-time with Mateo Kovacic taking his place.
 

Five minutes after the restart, Heaton saved from Higuain and Kovacic cleared the bar, followed later by an Emerson drive that had Heaton stretched but cleared the far post.

Hazard’s runs on the left still looked the most likely way to hurt Burnley. It was certainly bothering the visitors’ boss Sean Dyche on the touchline every time his side allowed our no.10 on the ball. Some of the Burnley challenges and refereeing decisions were increasingly bothering the Stamford Bridge crowd, as were more time-eating delays.

On 68 minutes the ball came the way of Azpilicueta who forced a near-post save from the Burnley keeper with a sharp shot. Olivier Giroud came on for Higuain and the game was increasingly camped out in the Burnley half of the pitch but the winner would not come.

Opposition players asked for plenty of on-pitch treatment as the game drew to a close. In stoppage time, Kovacic was booked following the first melee between the teams before the scenes in the tunnel mouth at the end.

This point leaves us in fourth with Tottenham, Arsenal and Man United all to play their games in hand in the next couple of days before we head to Old Trafford for a crucial game on Sunday.

Premier League 2018/2019
1Liverpool35277179205988
2Man City34282487226586
3Tottenham342211164352967
4Chelsea35207859382167
5Arsenal34206868432566
6Man Utd34197863481564


Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson; Kante (Kovacic h-t), Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hazard, Higuain (Giroud 77), Hudson-Odoi (Pedro 41).
Unused subs Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill, Barkley.
Scorers Kante 12, Higuain 14
Booked Pedro 90+2, Kovacic 90+4

Burnley
(4-4-2): Heaton (c); Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood.
Unused subs Hart, Gibson, Ward, Long, Gudmundsson, Brady, Vydra.
Scorers Hendrick 8, Barnes 24
Booked Heaton 32

Referee Kevin Friend
Crowd 40,642
 

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