Brilliant Blues go eight clear
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Chelsea moved a step closer to the Premiership title with a 3-1 win at Norwich City.Chelsea moved a step closer to winning the Premiership title with a deserved 3-1 win at Norwich City.
Late goals from Mateja Kezman and Ricardo Carvalho were enough to give Chelsea all three points after Leon McKenzie had threatened to shock The Blues when cancelling out Joe Cole's first half opener.
The win lifts Chelsea eight points clear at the top of the table and provides them with the perfect boost ahead of next week's UEFA Champions League showdown with Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea - buoyed by Manchester United's draw at Crystal Palace - began the game in confident fashion with Damien Duff and Frank Lampard firing shots over the crossbar from long-range in the opening five minutes.
The Carling Cup winners went close to breaking the deadlock after just eight minutes when Lampard sent Duff scampering clear on goal and the Irishman looked certain to score when dinking the ball over the advancing Robert Green, only for Jason Shackell to head the ball off the line.
Chelsea were dominating proceedings and Lampard was inches away from scoring with a fierce angled shot which flashed just over the crossbar with Green looking well beaten.
The Blues opened the scoring on 22 minutes with a fine individual strike from Cole.
Cole was able to ride two challenges by getting back to his feet to win a tackle with Marc Edworthy before lashing an unstoppable shot high into the net past Green.
Didier Drogba almost got through on goal two minutes later when Lampard picked him out inside the box with a fine pass, but his control let him down and Green was out quickly to gather the ball.
Duff created an opening for Cole on 28 minutes when he burst clear down the left and stood up a ball to the far post for Cole, who volleyed his effort over the crossbar.
Chelsea's confidence was evident with Lampard spotting Green off his line and he tried his luck from just inside his own half with a free kick which sailed just over the top.
Norwich were struggling to make any real impact against Chelsea's solid defence, but Dean Ashton had a half chance on 38 minutes which was well blocked by Ricardo Carvalho.
From the resulting corner, Ashton blazed wildly over the top from 12 yards after Craig Fleming's initial header was blocked by Carvalho.
Chelsea picked up at the start of the second half where they left off in the first half and Drogba should have done better when he got on the end of Lampard's free kick, only to glance his header harmlessly wide of goal.
The Ivory Coast international had another chance to score on the hour mark when Cole played him in on goal, but Green kept out his left-footed shot with his legs.
Norwich refused to lie down and Ashton glanced a header from Graham Stuart's corner just wide on 62 minutes.
Two minutes later, Norwich found a way past Petr Cech, with McKenzie helping Norwich to become the first team to score against The Blues in 11 Premiership outings.
The former Peterborough United hit-man began the move by picking the ball up on the edge of the area before passing out wide to Darren Huckerby and when the ball came in, he rose highest to plant his header into the net.
The goal lifted Norwich and Cech had to dive full stretch to keep out Damien Francis's header from Stuart's cross.
Chelsea refused to panic and responded in the manner of champions, with substitute Kezman finding the net five minutes after coming on.
Fellow substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen cleverly played Lampard in on goal and at full stretch, he tried to direct his shot goalwards, but he was relieved to see Kezman on hand to slot the ball home from close-range.
Chelsea made sure of the victory with Carvalho rising unchallenged to head home Lampard's corner 11 minutes from time for his first goal for the club.
Kezman had the chance to add to the lead eight minutes from time when Paulo Ferreira sent him racing clear down the left, but he flashed his effort just over the crossbar, as Chelsea toyed with their opponents to the final whistle.
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Norwich v Chelsea
|Norwich City||Team Name||Chelsea|
|2||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||10|
|14||Total Fouls Conceded||16|