The Blues have our first win since Frank Lampard’s return and deserved it too, having bossed significant periods of the play on our trip to a soggy South Coast.
The Saturday afternoon encounter could hardly have started better, with Conor Gallagher glancing a header in from an N’Golo Kante cross.
Hopes that it would all be smooth sailing after that were dashed however, when Matias Vina curled in a quality equaliser midway through the first half, and despite some promising attacks, with Noni Madueke often having the beating of the left side of the Bournemouth defence, it was level pegging at the interval.
Chelsea continued strongly at the start of the second half and although we were grateful for a majestic Thiago Silva tackle preventing our former player Dominic Solanke giving the home side the lead, after further chances at both ends Benoit Badiashile guided in his first Chelsea goal and then Joao Felix scored four minutes later to put the cherry on the top of this victory against the Cherries.
It was a second half in which substitutions made by Lampard had an impact. The one blemish on the day was losing Ben Chilwell late on to a hamstring injury.
Among the five changes made from the Arsenal game, the absence of Wesley Fofana was due to a minor hamstring injury. Lampard described leaving him out as precautionary. Benoit Badiashile and Trevoh Chalobah were returnees to the defence, Conor Gallagher came into midfield for Mateo Kovacic, and Kai Havertz and Mykhailo Mudryk joined Noni Madueke in the attack in place of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling.
Our caretaker manager explained before kick-off that he needed to bring some freshness to the starting 11.
Gallagher grabs the lead
The Blues went into this game level on points with today’s opponents having played one game fewer. Needless to say we were well overdue a win having not tasted victory in our previous nine games in all competitions.
It started well with an early goal, once Kepa had saved even earlier on when Vina broke through our backline, and then seen Jefferson Lerma’s shot whistle past his post.
At the other end, Madueke had already given the Cherries two moments of concern before the Blues took the lead inside the first 10 minutes. It was simple, but it was effective. Bournemouth allowed Kante the space to cross from the right and Gallagher was there between two defenders to head across Neto and into the net.
It was the first time we had taken the lead in a game since the same player put us ahead at home to Brighton four games earlier.
Home team hit back
Mudryk and Kante picked up early bookings and Badiashile recovered from what initially looked like a nasty twist in what was a fairly end-to-end encounter so far. Chelsea threatened to extend our lead when Enzo played the overlapping Chalobah in for a pull-back but the Bournemouth goalie grabbed the ball. With the home side’s next attack, they equalised.
Quick play through the middle by Ryan Christie and Solanke found Vina on the edge of our area and from there, the Uruguayan curled the perfect shot from his point of view beyond Kepa’s reach and in off the post. Our lead had lasted 12 minutes.
Madueke had been as lively as any Chelsea player in the first half but having found a way round the back of the Bournemouth defence a couple of times, he firstly dragged his shot into the side-netting and then picked out the hands of Neto.
The 21-year-old was then really sharp to win the ball in the Bournemouth box. Neto saved again. The opening 45 minutes ended with the teams level at one-apiece.
Coming on strong late in the second
Chelsea continued as the better team at the start of the second half, although Badiashile made an important intervention to send a searching low cross behind for a corner. Christie then went close with a shot over Kepa’s bar.
With an hour played, Lampard introduced Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Raheem Sterling as Chelsea looked to win back our previous control and indeed win the game.
There had been some moments of impressive defending by Badiashile but he was booked for a loose challenge on Dango Ouattara. The Bournemouth midfielder recovered to send a cross Solanke’s way right in front of goal, only for Thiago Silva to get there first with a superb sliding tackle. VAR checked it, but quickly allowed play to go on.
Kepa saved from Vina as Bournemouth began to look more likely to find a winner but then a chance for Havertz to do so went begging.
We had just lost Chilwell after he pulled up chasing a long Chalobah pass, and Hakim Ziyech, who had come on at the same time as the left-back’s replacement Cesar Azpilicueta, drilled a cross over to the unmarked German. Unfortunately Kia could not keep his header under control.
Balancing that almost immediately was Ouattara heading over the Chelsea goal from just four yards out, but it did not take long for two players at the other end to hit the target and decide the contest.
There were eight minutes of the 90 left when Ziyech had his second chance to send the ball over from the right, this time with a free-kick to the far post. Badiashile showed plenty of skill to guide the ball home with a left-foot volley.
Then two more substitutes made their contribution – Sterling with the run and Joao Felix with a fine first-time finish with one of his first touches.
3-1 – and game over!
Next Saturday we play the penultimate home game of the season when Nottingham Forest will be the visitors to Stamford Bridge. It is a 3pm kick-off.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Chalobah, Thiago Silva (c), Badiashile, Chilwell (Azpilicueta 75); Kante (Loftus-Cheek 63), Enzo, Gallagher; Madueke (Ziyech 75), Havertz (Joao Felix 84), Mudryk (Sterling 63).
Unused subs Mendy, Hall, Kovacic, Pulisic
Scorers Gallagher 9, Badiashile 82, Joao Felix 86
Booked Mudryk 15, Kante 20, Badiashile 65
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1):Neto; Smith, Senesi, Kelly, Vina; Lerma, Rothwell (Cook 59); Ouattara, Billing (Anthony 84), Christie (Semenyo 84); Solanke (Brooks 90).
Unused subs Travers, Mepham, Stephens, Stacey, Zabarnyi
Scorer Vina 21
Booked Senesi 45+3
Referee John Brooks