Chelsea vs Everton match report: Willian fires in deflected goal as Blues leave it late to maintain seven-point lead over Manchester City

Chelsea 1 Everton 0

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Afterwards Jose Mourinho reflected that in every one of his seven title-winning seasons as a manager there have been some games that were won in the very last few minutes - a sure sign that the momentum is unstoppable.

It was unstoppable here, and when Willian scored in the penultimate minute of normal time the reaction on the Chelsea bench and among the players was that of a club who knew they had passed an important milestone. They had broken Everton at last and for Mourinho it prompted a march onto the pitch at the final whistle to shake the hands of his players rather than his usual scoot up the tunnel.

The night was not without its controversy and you could see in Mourinho's reaction to questions about the behaviour of Branislav Ivanovic that despite the glow of victory he was also spoiling for a fight. The Serb had rushed into a melee just before the goal and locked an arm around the neck of the substitute James McCarthy before thrusting his forehead into the player but was not punished by referee Jonathan Moss.

It had begun with a foul by Gareth Barry on Willian, the second yellow card of the Everton midfielder's night. Ivanovic's reaction was extreme and it was clear that the Chelsea manager saw the potential consequences when he announced in his post-match press conference that he would walk out if he was asked another question on the subject. He did just that during a BBC interview minutes earlier when the subject of Ivanovic came up.

Mourinho will doubtless point to the elbow that Robin Van Persie thrust at James Tomkins last weekend and by Friday he will probably have searched out a couple more examples. But the reality remains that this incident will, at the very least, be studied by the Football Association. It will not want another battle with Chelsea and Mourinho but it may have no choice.

Roberto Martinez had no hesitation in saying that Ivanovic should have been sent off. “If you want to be on top of the law, that's a red card,” he said. Even more galling for the Everton manager was that the Chelsea full-back was then central to the goal that ensued. It was his header from the resultant free-kick that Tim Howard punched towards Willian who drilled the ball in via a deflection off Steven Naismith.

Juan Cuadrado made his first full start for the Blues, firing just wide in the first half

The same Everton midfielder might have had a penalty against him in the first half for handball. Mourinho later claimed that Barry should have been sent off earlier, before half-time in fact. So the argument goes round and round with every team nurturing its own set of grievances and the FA pitched into the middle to make sense of it all.

As Manchester City ran away with victory against Stoke City, Mourinho was facing a cut in his club's lead at the top of the league to five points. In fact, he needed his goalkeeper Petr Cech, reinstated at the expense of Thibaut Courtois to save him in the second half with a brilliant instinctive stop from Romelu Lukaku before Chelsea went on to get all three points.

Everton also had a strong goalkeeping performance from Tim Howard, straight back into the team at the expense of Joel Robles. But Martinez's team are in are in a bad place at the moment and have just one win in nine league games.

As Mourinho said, Cech had two saves to make all game but both were vital. The first was the only chance the away team had before the break when Ross Barkley and Naismith worked the ball to Lukaku who should have done better with his shot. In those early stages, Chelsea almost overwhelmed their visitors but instead they failed to make the breakthrough that reflected their good work.

Petr Cech made one of the saves of the season to keep the score at 0-0

The Everton midfielder Muhamed Besic was booked within five minutes for a foul on Eden Hazard, a “soft” one according to Martinez who said that the low threshold set the standard for the rest of the game.

With Diego Costa sat in the stands for the third and last game of his FA ban it was clear again that the side lacked that cutting edge. Loic Remy took his place in the team and did little to reassure Mourinho. The first booking for Barry came when he thrust himself head-first into Cuadrado's midriff. Mourinho claimed Barry should have had another for a later foul on Hazard.

Branislav Ivanovic clashed with James McCarthy

There was another appeal for Chelsea on 27 minutes when the young English centre-back John Stones wrapped an arm around the waist of Remy in the box and prevented the French striker from challenging properly for a cross from the right.

At half-time, Martinez took no risks with Besic and replaced him with McCarthy. Nemanja Matic had run the game from his position in front of the back four in the first half, but McCarthy prevented the Serb having as much of the ball after the break.

There was a good run and cross from Hazard just before the hour and whenever he was on the ball, it looked like there were possibilities for Chelsea. He had earlier drawn Seamus Coleman out of position and forced the full-back to foul him for a booking. Yet Hazard was on the ball too little for Chelsea. Matic struck a free-kick after the hour that Howard saved. Willian hit a shot over.

On 68 minutes Bryan Oviedo got the ball over from the left and Lukaku, completely unmarked in the six-yard area, had a clear sight of goal with his left foot. This was Cech's moment. The goalkeeper reacted instantaneously to block the ball with his foot and Chelsea escaped.

Chelsea players celebrate Willian's winner

Mourinho has seen enough and unleashed Didier Drogba and Cesc Fabregas but it was not until the final moments of the game that they got their breakthrough. There was a goal for Matic disallowed when the ball took a touch off Ivanovic in an offside position. An increasingly fractious game eventually caught fire with Barry's red card and the ensuing chaos that saw Ivanovic put his arm around McCarthy's throat.

The goal came from a clearing punch from Howard that fell to Willian in the left channel. The Brazilian hit his shot low and hard and at the last moment Naismith thrust out a foot that put enough on the ball to take it past the Everton goalkeeper. The home bench erupted. These are the kind of win that every team that wants to be champions must produce.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Cuadrado, Hazard, Willian; Remy.

Subs: Drogba/Remy 70, Fabregas/Cuadrado 70, Cahill/Willian 90

Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard: Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Oviedo; Besic, Barry; Lennon, Naismith, Barkley; Lukaku.

Subs: McCarthy/Besic ht, Gibson/Barkley 74, Mirallas/Lennon 74

Referee: J Moss

Man of the match: Matic

Rating: 6

Booked: Chelsea Azpilicueta, Ramires, Fabregas Everton Besic, Barry, Coleman, McCarthy

Sent off: Barry