English Premiership

Schurrle sparks Chelsea win

2014-05-11 19:13
Andre Schurrle (AFP)

Cardiff - Substitute Andre Schurrle's introduction proved decisive as Chelsea came from behind to defeat relegated Cardiff 2-1 with two goals in three second-half minutes in the Welsh capital.

The Germany international scored one and made the other for Fernando Torres shortly after coming on as Jose Mourinho's team, third in the Premier League, ended a trophyless season on a winning note.

Cardiff, in their final game before returning to the second-tier Championship, had led beyond the hour mark courtesy of Craig Bellamy's early deflected strike in what seems likely to be his final game as a professional.

The 34-year-old striker, who has scored for a record seven clubs in the Premier League, is out of contract this summer and reportedly planning to call time on his career.

Wales international Bellamy was given a rousing reception by the home supporters when replaced in the second period during a low-key final-day contest which reflected the fact neither side had much to play for.

The victory will provide little consolation for Chelsea manager Mourinho following a disappointing climax to a campaign which has seen the London club's bid for Premier League and Champions League glory end in failure.

The Portuguese will know Blues owner Roman Abramovich is unlikely to settle for a repeat outcome next term.

- Balloon chaos -

Cardiff fans made their feelings known towards the club's Malaysian owner Vincent Tan, who has changed their home shirt from its traditional blue to red, before kick-off by releasing a bundle of blue balloons onto the pitch -- and they almost contributed to an early Chelsea goal.

Steven Caulker's underhit backpass put David Marshall under pressure to clear his lines, however the goalkeeper's efforts were hampered by a balloon and the swirling wind.

It left Torres seemingly with the goal at his mercy, albeit from a tight angle, yet the Spaniard was equally troubled by the conditions and surrounding balloons and it gave Caulker just enough time to divert his goalbound effort away for a corner.

It was a poor miss and it was made to look even more so in the 15th minute.

With Chelsea's defence backing off, Bellamy, 22 yards out, was invited to try his luck.

It was very much in as his strike towards the left corner took a wicked deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta and flew beyond the wrong-footed Mark Schwarzer.

Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to sharpen up his attacking options for next season, a point demonstrated when Mohamed Salah shot over the bar from close range after excellent approach play by Eden Hazard.

Another golden opportunity went to waste in the 27th minute when some slack defending from the home side left Oscar onside inside the penalty area and with acres of space, yet once more Marshall was not tested.

Hazard was the next guilty party with a weak glancing header from Ashley Cole's left-wing delivery and the Belgium international blazed into the side-netting midway through the second half after more good work from the veteran England left-back.

Finally, with 18 minutes remaining, Mourinho's team made a breakthrough -- yet even then it came at their third attempt.

Marshall added another stunning save to this season's collection to keep out Azpilicueta's header from point-blank range following Oscar's inviting delivery.

The Spanish defender then found the crossbar from the rebound before a volley into the ground from Schurrle -- on the pitch six minutes -- finally broke the home side's resistance.

And another followed just three minutes later when Don Cowie's clearance was headed towards Torres by Schurrle and this time the former Liverpool forward made no mistake, slotting beyond Marshall from close range.

Read more on:    cardiff  |  chelsea  |  english premiership  |  soccer
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