Diego Costa's controversial strike proves decisive as Chelsea win at …
Norwich’s luck deserted them once again as Diego Costa scored from an offside position in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Carrow Road.
The Canaries were undone by their own defensive failings – conceding after 39 seconds to Kenedy’s fastest goal of the Barclays Premier League season so far – and misfortune, as the victims of an incorrect decision by the match officials.
Costa’s strike before half-time should have been ruled out for offside, but assistant referee Michael McDonough failed to flag and the goal stood, despite protests as Norwich lost for the seventh time in eight Premier League games.
The Canaries ensured Chelsea never truly had a grip on proceedings. Cameron Jerome hit the bar early in the second half and Nathan Redmond pulled a goal back 22 minutes from time.
But Alex Neil’s men dropped into the relegation zone as Chelsea climbed to eighth with a third straight league win.
Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in domestic competition as Chelsea interim boss and Costa has now scored 10 goals in 14 games under the Dutchman.
Chelsea made four changes following the win at Southampton and Norwich made one of the incomers particularly welcome in the opening minute.
Eden Hazard ran at Norwich and switched ball left for Kenedy, who cut in and was allowed to make space to shoot. After Ivo Pinto, Alex Tettey and Ryan Bennett failed to shut him down, the Brazilian fired a low effort into the bottom corner across goal.
Chelsea threatened to score another, with Hazard revelling in the open start.
The Belgium playmaker pulled the ball back for Bertrand Traore, on his first start, but it was just behind the forward.
The game continued to be open and Jerome headed the ball on to the roof of the net from Wes Hoolahan’s cross.
Gary O’Neil came on for Tettey, who hobbled off after an ineffective 36 minutes, and provided more stability, but still Norwich were vulnerable.
Hazard tried to fashion a second for Traore, but the 20-year-old, who had scored on his last three substitute appearances, took a heavy touch and John Ruddy picked it up.
Norwich supporters were incensed when Thibaut Courtois picked up the ball soon afterwards, from Gary Cahill’s pass-back. What the home faithful did not see, but referee Lee Mason did, was that the ball deflected off Jerome.
The Canaries had a more legitimate reason to feel aggrieved when Cesc Fabregas took a quick throw to Traore and he found Costa, who peeled round to collect the ball before clipping it over Ruddy. Replays showed Costa was clearly offside.
Jerome spurned a fine opportunity to pull a goal back when Hoolahan crossed and Russell Martin headed the ball back in front of goal.
Jerome was unmarked when, with the ball at a difficult height, he swivelled and hit it left-footed on to the bar.
Hiddink sent on John Obi Mikel for Oscar and Willian for Traore.
But the control he sought was lacking and it was soon 2-1 as Redmond ran in behind Kenedy and latched on to a Hoolahan pass before rifling past Courtois.
Kenedy was immediately withdrawn by Hiddink, with Baba Rahman back into the fray following his half-time substitution at Southampton.
Redmond twice went close and Costa slid the ball wide at the other end as Chelsea held on.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
” Great to see @ChelseaFC in the top half of the table. Unbeaten in 11 league games now- great turnaround!! Keep it going” – Chelsea and England Women striker Eni Aluko (https://twitter.com/EniAlu/status/704792666274471939).
John Ruddy: 6 (out of 10)
Russell Martin: 6
Timm Klose: 6
Ryan Bennett: 5
Ivo Pinto: 5
Alex Tettey: 5
Jonny Howson: 6
Nathan Redmond: 7
Robbie Brady: 6
Wes Hoolahan: 8
Cameron Jerome: 6
Gary O’Neil (for Tettey, 36 minutes): 7
Dieumerci Mbokani (for Bennett, 61): 6
Thibaut Courtois: 6
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7
Branislav Ivanovic: 7
Gary Cahill: 7
Nemanja Matic: 6
Cesc Fabregas: 7
Bertrand Traore: 6
Eden Hazard: 8
Diego Costa: 7
Willian (for Traore, 60): 6
John Obi Mikel (for Oscar, 60): 7
Baba Rahman (for Kenedy, 69): 6
Had his best moments in the first half as he boosted his fragile confidence, but his influence waned in the second.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Kenedy is fast and the Brazilian was quick to make his mark, scoring after 39 seconds. The 20-year-old cut in from the left and, with Ivo Pinto, Alex Tettey and Ryan Bennett all reluctant to make a challenge, fired a precision shot into the far corner for his second Chelsea goal.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Assistant referee Michael McDonough will not want to see replays of Diego Costa’s goal just before half-time. The striker was clearly offside from Bertrand Traore’s pass before he chipped John Ruddy.
Referee Lee Mason had earlier been correct with a marginal call as Gary Cahill’s back-pass to Thibaut Courtois deflected off Cameron Jerome.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Steven Naismith was an unexplained absentee for Norwich, who began with three at the back but changed to a flat back four when chasing the game.
Four changes for Chelsea saw Bertrand Traore make his first start. Kenedy came in at left-back, Nemanja Matic in defensive midfield and Oscar, alongside Traore, in behind the striker. Alexandre Pato was in the matchday squad, for the first time since signing on loan 32 days previously.
The Brazilian did not feature as once again a left-back was withdrawn early, with Kenedy replaced by Baba Rahman.
John Terry cannot come back soon enough for Hiddink.
WHO’S UP NEXT
Swansea v NORWICH, Premier League, March 5
CHELSEA v Stoke, Premier League, March 5