Chelsea bounce back to defeat Bluebirds in season finale
Goals from André Schürrle and Fernando Torres handed Chelsea three points at Cardiff City Stadium in the final game of the Barclays Premier League season.
Craig Bellamy had given the Bluebirds the lead with a shot that deflected off César Azpilicueta and beyond Mark Schwarzer, but it was Mourinho’s Blues who left Wales with the win after second half strikes from André Schürrle and Fernando Torres saw the Blues overturn the one goal deficit.
The game also saw Premier League and senior Cardiff City debuts for Rhys Healey and Thomas James who both came on as second half substitutes.
Cardiff City brought the Premier League season to a close with the visit of José Mourinho’s Chelsea to Cardiff City Stadium. Bluebirds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær made two changes to the starting eleven that were beaten at St. James’ Park by Newcastle United last week, with Craig Bellamy and Mats Møller Dæhli coming in for Wilfried Zaha and Kim Bo-Kyung. Two youngsters in Thomas James and Rhys Healey made the bench for the first time. Mourinho had to do without goalkeeper Petr Cech, striker Samuel Eto’o and influential English pair Frank Lampard and John Terry, and handed Ashley Cole the Blues’ captain’s armband.
Chelsea had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Michael Oliver after less than two minutes as Brazilian midfielder Oscar went down under the challenge of Ben Turner, while Steven Caulker was on top form to get himself in the way of Fernando Torres’s shot after the Spaniard has touched the ball beyond David Marshall. Oscar curled one over the bar minutes later. John Obi Mikel was cautioned for fouling Mats Dæhli.
But it was the Bluebirds who took the lead after a quarter of an hour, as Craig Bellamy’s left-footed shot deflected off César Azpilicueta and left Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with no chance. It was Bellamy’s second goal of the season, the first coming in February’s Cardiff City Stadium win over Norwich City. Mohamed Salah hit over at the other end, before Aron Gunnarsson headed Peter Whittingham’s cross over Schwarzer’s bar.
Turner’s last-ditch tackle on Oscar was crucial in preventing a 26th-minute equaliser before Marshall saved a low drive from Salah. Fraizer Campbell evaded the challenges of numerous Chelsea defenders before hitting over with ten minutes of the first half to go.
A twenty-five-yard shot from Fábio brought a save out of Schwarzer on forty-one minutes, while Salah hit wide just before half-time.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 CHELSEA
Peter Whittingham was booked for bringing down the breaking Salah, before Torres curled wide of Marshall’s goal. Declan John was the unlikely candidate for the next shot on target, as he was fed by goalscorer Bellamy before finding Schwarzer.
The away fans thought they had found an equaliser when Eden Hazard broke through, but it was the Belgian hitting the side—netting which had the goal rustling. André Schürrle replaced the booked John Obi Mikel in José Mourinho’s first substitution, with Don Cowie coming on for Mats Dæhli soon after. Fábio shot wide with his left foot after neat creative play from Bellamy and Whittingham.
Shortly after David Marshall collected Oscar’s low shot on seventy minutes, Chelsea were level. Marshall showed amazing reflexes to stop the header of César Azpilicueta, with the Spanish full-back hitting the bar from the rebound before Schürrle left the keeper with no chance with the second follow-up. The comeback was completed just minutes later, Schürrle turning provider as he headed to Fernando Torres, who made no mistake to put Mourinho’s Blues into the lead.
Rhys Healey replaced Craig Bellamy to make his Premier League and Cardiff City debut before Chelsea sent on another youngster, Nathan Aké, in place of Mohamed Salah. Schürrle presented Eden Hazard with an open goal with five minutes left, the Belgian scuffing the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Nemanja Matic was booked for fouling Jordon Mutch before the game’s final two substitutions: Fraizer Campbell making way for another debutant, Thomas James, while John Swift came on for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. Marshall, as he has done all season, made another wondersave, this time from Schürrle as the clock ticked past ninety minutes. That was that, with Chelsea coming out the winners, their sixth league game in a row unbeaten in the Welsh capital.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 1-2 CHELSEA
Teams - Cardiff City: Marshall, Caulker (capt), Turner, Whittingham, Campbell, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Dæhli, Fábio, Bellamy, John. Subs not used: Lewis, Eikrem, Cowie, McNaughton, Berget, James, Healey.
Goals: Bellamy 15’
Chelsea: Schwarzer, Ivanović, Cole (capt), Torres, Oscar, Mikel, Salah, Hazard, Matić, Azpilicueta, Kalas. Subs not used: Hilário, David Luiz, Schürrle, Ba, Cahill, Aké, Swift.
Goals: Schurrle 72, Torres 75.
Attendance: 27,716 (Cardiff City Stadium)
Referee: Mr. M. Oliver