Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 2
Chelsea ended the Premier League season with a win as they came from behind to beat Cardiff City 2-1 in the Welsh capital. Bellamy’s deflected shot gave the Bluebirds the lead but Andre Schurrle put his side back on level pegging late in the game before Fernando Torres scored the winner in what may well turn out to be his last game for the club.
Ashley Cole, who may also have been making his last appearance for the club, was handed the Captain’s armband due to the absence of John Terry and Frank Lampard. Tomas Kalas made his second start for the club alongside Branislav Ivanovic at centre half. John Mikel Obi returned to the side and Oscar was back in the team for a first start since the Sunderland defeat.
Chasing the runners-up spot in the league, Chelsea started positively and could easily have had a penalty in the first minute when Oscar was taken down in the area by Turner. Referee Oliver wasn’t impressed and waved play on before Chelsea created a great chance for Torres to make it 1-0. The Spaniard pounced as Marshall made a meal of clearing the ball but despite going clean through on goal he couldn’t hit the back of the net as Caulker got back to clear off the line.
Oscar tried his luck from range a couple of minutes later with an effort that went just over the top of Marshall’s bar as Chelsea continued to create chances despite not playing particularly exciting or adventurous football. Cardiff were on the back foot but then, in the 15th minute, they took the lead against the run of play. The hosts won control of the ball in midfield and found Bellamy, who cracked a hopeful effort at goal which took a huge deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta and completely wrong-footed Mark Schwarzer before hitting the back of the net.
Chelsea responded well to the setback though and Mohamed Salah perhaps should have done better when Eden Hazard set him up but he fired over the bar. Mikel then opened up the Bluebirds with a nice pass to Oscar, who smashed an effort at goal which Turner got just enough on to deflect behind.
Although Campbell had half a chance to make it 2-0 it was all Chelsea for most of the rest of the half and Hazard was unlucky not to find a teammate when he flicked the ball to the back-post after being set up by Cole. Torres then set Salah free but the Egyptian thumped an effort over the bar rather than return the ball to the striker who was in a good position.
Just before the break Salah tried his luck again but this time the ball went just wide of the mark after a Hazard corner was headed into his path. It was a decent effort but Chelsea still went in trailing at the break.
José Mourinho was content to leave his team unchanged and again Salah threatened after the re-start, getting past his man before seeing his shot deflected behind. Torres followed that effort up with a turn and shot which went just wide of the mark but Marshall was having an easy time in goal with few shots finding the target thanks to some poor accuracy and good defending from the hosts.
Hazard hit the side netting as another chance went begging before Schurrle was brought on for Mikel as Mourinho looked for a goal. Oscar dropped into a deeper role and managed to test Marshall with a long-distance attempt but Chelsea were still struggling to really open things up and find an equaliser. Finally though they did manage to pick the lock after Azpilicueta came steaming on to an Oscar cross and seemed certain to score with a header. He was denied by a brilliant save from Marshall and then turned the rebound onto the bar. Marshall’s luck was out at the third attempt though as the ball fell to Schurrle and he turned the ball home to level the scores.
It was a crucial turning point in the game and minutes later Chelsea were in front. Azpilicueta turned provider with a cross that was headed clear but only as far as Schurrle. The German found Torres and he made no mistake from close range to turn the game around.
Cardiff’s fight was now gone and Mourinho was able to introduce Nathan Ake for his first appearance of the season 12 minutes from time in place of Salah. Hazard could have easily added a third when he met a Schurrle cross late on but he couldn’t quite find the back of the net and, with two minutes left. John Swift came on in place of Hazard to make his first team debut. It was a suitable way to end the afternoon and Chelsea can look back with some satisfaction on a transition season which saw them challenge for major honours right to the end and secure a third-place league finish. Expectations will be higher next season but with big-name signings on the horizon, Mourinho will surely be feeling confident of adding to his illustrious honours-list.
Chelsea; Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Kalas, Cole, Mikel (Schurrle 66), Matic, Salah (Ake 79), Oscar, Hazard (Swift 88), Torres
Unused subs; Hilario, Cahill, David Luiz, Ba
Chelsea scorers; Schurrle 72, Torres 75
Booked; Mikel, Matic
Referee; M Oliver
Young Ulster Blue