Chelsea tightened their grip on a Champions League spot as Olivier Giroud's header gave them a 1-0 win over relegated Norwich.
Giroud's header moments before half-time, against an unusually resolute Norwich defence, ensured Frank Lampard's side returned to winning ways after their dire defeat at Sheffield United last weekend.
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With Manchester United and Leicester, both starting the matchday a point behind the Blues, to play later in the week it was imperative Chelsea picked up three points to guarantee the pair could not leapfrog them - and a dominant display in west London deserved more than the narrow margin of victory.
Christian Pulisic saw a shot on the turn palmed onto the bar by Tim Krul while Giroud missed a number of first-half chances before scoring the only goal, while after the break Pulisic and Willian were both denied, but Chelsea saw out victory relatively comfortably to move four points clear, for now at least, in third.
Chelsea: Kepa (6), Azpilicueta (7), Zouma (6), Rudiger (7), Alonso (7), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (6), Loftus-Cheek (6), Willian (6), Giroud (7), Pulisic (7).
Subs: Barkley (6), James, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham (n/a).
Norwich: Krul (7), Aarons (6), Godfrey (7), Klose (6), Lewis (6), Cantwell (6), Hernandez (6), Rupp (5), McLean (5), Tettey (5), Drmic (5).
Subs: Buendia (5), Idah, Pukki, Stiepermann, Martin (n/a).
Man of the match: Olivier Giroud
Chelsea edge victory despite familiar issues
Norwich have rarely been seen without Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia this season but their absence was not the only alteration from Daniel Farke, whose usually expansive side set up to frustrate their hosts from the off and avoid some unwanted history by losing an eighth consecutive league game for the first time.
It was testament to their efforts that it took Chelsea 20 minutes to carve out a chance of note from a moment of Jorginho quality, as his lofted ball was volleyed straight at Krul by Giroud under pressure from Ben Godfrey.
Chelsea made five changes from the side beaten at Sheffield United, including a return for Olivier Giroud and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to the starting line-up.
There were also four changes for Norwich, as Daniel Farke opted to start without either Teemu Pukki or Emi Buendia.
That would not be the only chance he passed up. The Frenchman scuffed Cesar Azpilicueta's pull-back high and wide before failing to connect with Ruben Loftus-Cheek's flick, while Kurt Zouma flashed a free header wide from a corner.
Chelsea's persistence has not always paid off this season, but in first-half injury time they did finally find their shooting boots. With Pulisic in space out wide on the left, he cut onto his stronger foot before finding Giroud with a curling cross which the target man buried beyond a helpless Krul, to score in three consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since January 2017.
Norwich had yet to muster a shot of any kind and despite the scoreline little changed after the break, with Chelsea again playing attack against defence while finding their path to a second goal frustrated, not least by the agile Krul.
He had to be alert to turn away Pulisic's powerful effort at his near post, while Azpilicueta side-footed over his bar from 20 yards, and minutes later Marcos Alonso was left slapping the ground in frustration after seeing his header denied by the goalkeeper.
Giroud was denied a second with his final touch before being replaced five minutes from time, as Godfrey beat him to the near post from Willian's low cross, but with Kepa in the home goal untested by a single shot on target all night from the Canaries, it was Chelsea singing at full-time as they took the early advantage in the race for the Champions League.
What the managers said...
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: "We take our three points, we focus on ourselves, we can sit down and watch the other teams this week and focus on our FA Cup semi-final at the weekend [against Manchester United], but there's obviously still work to do.
"There's a nervy feeling for understandable reasons, so I'm pleased. We went a bit slow for about 10 or 15 minutes in the second half. Then we began moving the ball again and there was a bit of personality in our game today, but we can improve."
Norwich manager Daniel Farke: "In terms of the commitment, desire, defensive workload, it was a really good performance. Of course, we are sad because we are not able to go away with at least one point, but I am happy with the reaction after relegation, and for that, I just have compliments for my lads.
"It's the consistency you are always struggling with when your individual quality is not at the top level. On a good day, we are competitive, but we are even competitive against the best sides in this league, winning games against Leicester and Manchester City.
"But when we are not spot-on across all topics, we are trash. A better side with more individual quality, they can at least be solid and fight for a point, but we are not capable of doing that."
Man of the match - Olivier Giroud
On a night lacking vintage individual performances, Giroud's hold-up play as an old-fashioned target man helped Chelsea keep the ball forward against an unusually compact Norwich defence.
Despite his profligacy with a number of first-half chances, he still showed the quality to bury Pulisic's cross seconds before half-time and ultimately prove the game's match-winner.
He competed in more aerial duels (11) than anyone else on the pitch and had eight of Chelsea's 22 shots, and kept up his fine recent scoring record - having looked likely to leave Stamford Bridge as recently as January.
- Chelsea have won five consecutive home Premier League games for the first time since December 2017.
- Norwich have now lost 25 Premier League games this season - the most defeats they have ever suffered in a league campaign.
- Since his Premier League debut in August 2012, Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has scored 31 headed goals in the competition, five more than any other player in that time.
- Norwich have now lost eight consecutive league games for the first time in their history.
Chelsea face Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday at 6pm. Then they travel to Liverpool next Wednesday live on Sky Sports Premier League from 8pm; Kick-off at 8.15pm, before facing Wolves on the final day of the season on July 26 - in what may yet prove a straight race for a Champions League spot.
Norwich host Europe-chasing Burnley on Sky Sports Premier League on Saturday from 5pm; Kick-off at 5.30pm. They then travel to Champions League hopefuls Manchester City on the final day of the season.