Chelsea 1 Everton 0 match report: John Terry’s injury-time stretch keeps Chelsea on course for ‘destiny’
Terry looked to get a touch on Frank Lampard's corner though the ball did come off Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard
Saturday 22 February 2014
There may be many questions about the manner of Chelsea’s winning goal, not to mention its actual scorer, but there can be absolutely no doubting its importance.
Destiny wanted it,” Jose Mourinho said, and these type of 93rd-minute winners certainly tend to inspire feelings of fate – if not just outright win titles.
That may be premature to say right now and could well be proven wrong in a season as tight as this, but the present reality is it keeps Chelsea top of the table. They remain on course.
Typically, as has been his wont lately, Mourinho was only willing to speak about it in those kinds of terms thereafter. He deflected any questions about defining moments or whether this is the sign of champions, instead merely pointing to the facts.
“It’s simple,” the Portuguese said. “If today we have only one point, if the teams that are behind us they win, we lose that position. The difference is very small.”
As such, this was a big goal for the League leaders – especially because it was so belated.
“Every victory keeps us there, every defeat or draw we lose a position,” Mourinho stated. “The feeling when you lose points in the last minute, like we lose two points at West Bromwich, is obviously a bad feeling. You have three points in your hand and lose two. When you win in the last minute, it’s the opposite so it’s basically compensation for the two points we lost against West Bromwich.”
Mention of a fixture against the midlands side is pointed but, when the final goal went in, it wasn’t the 11 February 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns that felt the most relevant. Instead, these final minutes had more common with November’s 2-2 draw.
On that occasion, an all-too-easy Ramires fall forced the incident that secured Chelsea a positive result. Here, it was much the same.
Deep into stoppage time, and deep into Everton’s half, the Brazilian midfielder went down under what seemed to be a fair challenge from Phil Jagielka. That allowed Frank Lampard the opportunity to curl the ball towards goal from the resulting free-kick, and John Terry to throw his body towards it.
It was unclear whether the Chelsea captain or Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard got the final touch, but it finally put clear daylight between the teams.
The Everton manager Roberto Martinez was admirably graceful about it afterwards, describing it as simply the kind of thing that happens “everywhere in football”, but he did state it was “soft”. This, by contrast, was a hard-fought game.
In truth, Ramires had a significant input long before his late surge. Mourinho even described his introduction as the match’s turning point.
It’s difficult to dispute. For virtually all of the first half, and with the Brazilian on the bench, Everton were the dominant team.
The most striking aspect of that, however, was that it was not just in terms of possession but also power. Martinez’s team were simply outmuscling Chelsea.
Around the 20th minute, James McCarthy went through Terry and came out with the ball. In various other incidents around that, other than one nutmeg, the Irish midfielder cowed an unusually quiet Eden Hazard.
“I think it’s a very unfair result for us not to get anything after that performance that we’ve had. From a tactical and technical point of view, we were the better team,” Martinez fairly stated. In terms of the lack of a prime striker, though, they were identical. It was the one area in which both sides lacked force, and the fact Mourinho ended up playing two forwards – in Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres – only served to highlight that issue further.
The obvious reference is the injured and ineligible on-loan Romelu Lukaku but, for the Chelsea manager, it meant an obvious change.
“Normally my change would be a different one, but I felt I needed to control the game because my team is not a team that scores a lot of goals so, if they score before us, we are not a team in normal conditions able to score two goals and win the game, so I prefer to put Ramires on. That gave much more consistency to our midfield.
“They were in control for parts of the second half but, for the last 20 minutes – 15 minutes plus the five extra-time, we were strong, we create, we press, we dominate.
“Of course, when you win minute 90-something you can speak about lucky, but the reality is the boys chase that, they chase a lot.”
It means everyone else is still chasing Chelsea.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard; Hazard, Oscar (Ramires 45), Willian (Torres 62); Eto;o (Schurrle 69).
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas (Deulofeu 75), Osman IBarkley 63), Pienaar (McGeady 80); Naismith.
Referee: Lee Probert.
Man of the match: Terry (Chelsea)
Match rating: 7/10
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