A first home league win under Frank Lampard and a first clean sheet of the season were the highlights of a positive afternoon at Stamford Bridge as Jorginho’s penalty and Willian’s deflected drive sealed three Premier League points for Chelsea.
It was an afternoon where emotions swung from frustration to celebration and then relief. The first period was dominated by the Blues but Mat Ryan, the Brighton goalkeeper, stood in the way of anything we could muster. Tammy Abraham went closest with a header glanced against the post, while Ross Barkley, Pedro and Marcos Alonso were also all denied.
Jorginho set us on the way with a penalty slotted in early in the second half after Mason Mount had been brought down in the box, while Willian’s first goal of the season on 76 minutes sealed the victory.
Brighton were close to equalising when Dan Burn nodded on to the crossbar with the score at 1-0, though a first clean sheet in 11 games was secured as Lampard’s men moved up to sixth.
Next up is a short trip to France for our Champions League meeting with Lille on Wednesday.
Andreas Christensen was passed fit to start after missing the midweek Carabao Cup win, though fellow defender Kurt Zouma fell ill on the morning of the match and midfielder N’Golo Kante was ruled out with a minor hamstring problem.
That meant there were three changes from the starting line-up against Liverpool six days previously with Alonso, who came on in that match for injured Emerson Palmieri, continuing at left-back, while Barkley and Pedro replaced Kante and Mateo Kovacic. Abraham began the weekend with the second-most Premier League goals in 2019/20 and continued to spearhead the Chelsea attack.
With eight alterations from our midweek exertions, there was a freshness to the team that translated into another bright start to proceedings at the Bridge. Mount was appealing for a penalty inside five minutes before his corner fashioned the first sight at goal of the afternoon for Jorginho. The Italian had been teed up cleverly by Alonso’s near-post reverse flick but his effort from the edge of the box drifted harmlessly past Ryan’s upright.
Abraham and Willian also fired off-target in the opening exchanges as Lampard’s side exerted their control early on without testing Brighton’s Australian keeper. Our first clear-cut chance came after 15 minutes as Mount’s teasing inswinging free-kick was glanced on by Abraham but the woodwork denied the 21-year-old his eighth goal of the season.
Apart from a pair of blocked strikes from Abraham and Willian, the following 20-minute period was a quiet one from a creative sense for the Blues. Brighton managed to claim a foothold in the contest and fashioned their best opportunity just after the half-hour mark as Neal Maupay was released in behind with a ball over the top of our defence.
However, Kepa read the danger and waited on the edge of the box before using his chest to deny the former Brentford frontman.
Chances continued to come and go for the hosts in the minutes leading up to the interval, a familiar frustration of squandered opportunities enveloping SW6. Barkley had Ryan scrambling with a deflected strike that bounced fractionally wide before the England international latched on to a superb cross from Alonso but hit a side-footed volley straight at the Seagulls stopper.
Pedro was next to go close, set free by Jorginho’s lofted pass over the top, but Ryan was out quickly to thwart the forward, before Alonso snuck in unchecked at the back post to get on the end of Pedro’s delivery but his shot on the stretch flew into the Shed End. It meant the Blues went in at half-time with 17 shots to Brighton’s zero but with the score still 0-0.
Yet it took just five minutes of the restart for the breakthrough to finally arrive, albeit with a helping hand from the visitors. A typically front-footed press forced a mistake from defender Adam Webster, who under-hit a pass back to Ryan before upending Mount as the midfielder looked to pounce.
Referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot, a decision that was upheld by the video assistant, handing Jorginho the chance to break the deadlock. In his inimitable fashion, our number five confused the goalkeeper with his stuttering run-up before slotting the spot-kick to Ryan’s right for his first league goal since March.
There were chances to make it 2-0 in the following minutes as Ryan twice came to the rescue of the Seagulls, saving Pedro’s effort from the right before smothering at the feet of Abraham after Mount’s hassling had forced another mistake in possession from the visitors. Yet the longer the deficit remained at one, the more Brighton’s hope grew.
Pascal Gross had a decent opportunity in the air but Fikayo Tomori’s pressure was enough to force the German into a miscued header, before a double chance for Graham Potter’s side with 18 minutes remaining proved their best moment to take something from the game. Steven Alzate provided the initial threat, skipping into the box before driving a strike at goal that deflected off Christensen and whistled fractionally wide.
From the resulting corner, swung in from the left by Gross, Dan Burn rose highest at the back post and diverted a header towards the far corner, though the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and away to safety.
Within five minutes, the points were safely secured. A quick break forward was initiated by recent arrival Callum Hudson-Odoi, who threaded a neat pass forward to Willian down the inside-right channel. In space and urged to attack, the Brazilian did just that and his low drive deflected fortuitously for the Blues, beyond the diving Ryan and into the back of the net.
Relief as much as celebration greeted our two-goal lead and the game was safely managed for the final quarter of an hour. Abraham almost added to his excellent start as our leading man but was thwarted again by Ryan as he attempted to dink the ball over the keeper, who ended the game as Brighton’s outstanding player.
For the Blues, two wins at the Bridge in four days, positive momentum and a jump into the top six.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Tomori, Alonso; Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 68); Willian, Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 63), Mount; AbrahamUnused subs Caballero, Pulisic, Batshuayi, James, GuehiScorers Jorginho (pen) 50; Willian 76Booked Christensen, Alonso
Brighton Ryan; Webster, Dunk (c), Burn; Montoya, Stephens, Bissouma (Bong h/t), Alzate; Gross, Maupay, Mooy (Connolly 65)Unused subs Button, Baluta, Jahanbakhsh, Murray, SchleottoBooked Maupay, Alzate, Webster
Referee Chris KavanaghCrowd 40,683