English Premiership

Diego Costa lifts Chelsea

2016-03-02 06:46
Diego Costa (Getty)

Norwich - Chelsea moved into the top half of the Premier League for the first time since August as Diego Costa sealed a 2-1 win at struggling Norwich on Tuesday.

Guus Hiddink's side, who remain unbeaten in domestic action under their interim manager, climbed to eighth place thanks to first-half goals from Kenedy and Costa.

Nathan Redmond's goal gave Norwich hope of a comeback, but the Canaries have now not won since early January and have been pushed into the bottom three by Sunderland's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

Chelsea made four changes from the side that came back from behind to win 2-1 at Southampton on Saturday, with Kenedy, Nemanja Matic, Bertrand Traore and Oscar replacing Baba Rahman, John Obi Mikel, Willian and Pedro making way.

Norwich had held out until the 89th minute at Leicester at the weekend before going down to the game's only goal.

But this time parity lasted all of 39 seconds when Kenedy, played in by Eden Hazard, struck a low drive across John Ruddy in the home goal.

The goalkeeper had been afforded scant protection as team-mates backed off initially to allow Hazard to gain speed.

And when the ball was switched to the Brazilian at least three Norwich men were guilty of making half-hearted attempts to stop him before the shot was unleashed.

If Norwich's plans had been to defend, the setback at least forced them to abandon such negative thoughts and the Canaries did attack their visitors regularly before the break.

A lack of cutting edge was all too obvious, but no clear cut Chelsea chances were created until half-time was seconds away and Spain striker Costa doubled the lead.

The goal came from a throw-in as Hazard teed up Traore, making his first Chelsea start, for a first-time ball that saw the young forward stride off towards goal with defenders trailing.

Costa lofted the ball over Ruddy with ease but it was already apparent that he had been offside when Traore launched his pass.

That wasn't the first error made by referee Lee Mason and his officials - Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had been allowed to pick up an obvious back-pass by Gary Cahill.

Norwich began the second half brightly and Cameron Jerome peeled away from his marker at the back post to volley narrowly wide.

Redmond fired over before Jerome squandered a great chance to put the Canaries back in the game.

Wes Hoolahan's cross found Russell Martin at the back post and the Scotland international's header was perfect for the striker right in front of goal but somehow his volley hit the top of the bar rather than the net.

Chelsea made a double substitution, with Mikel and Willian replacing Oscar and Traore on the hour mark.

Norwich threw on an extra attacker in Dieumerci Mbokani, with centre-back Bennett the man sacrificed.

Jerome headed a good chance over straight away but Redmond pulled one back with a fine strike in the 68th minute, rifling past Courtois after Hoolahan had played him in on the right of the box.

Chelsea nerves were frayed and Cesc Fabregas was booked for fouling Redmond before Jerome diverted Robbie Brady's shot, forcing Courtois into a save.

Gary O'Neil and Brady were hurt in a clash of heads that also involved Willian.

Blood was spilt by both Norwich men and O'Neil had to go off to get a massive bandage tied round his head.

Norwich pressed to the end and Redmond fired a low drive past Courtois but into the side-netting.

Costa put a great chance to wrap up victory wide after Fabregas had beaten the offside trap but despite five frantic added minutes the score remained the same.

Read more on:    chelsea  |  english premiership  |  diego costa  |  soccer

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