Offside goal by Azpilicueta turns defeat into unlikely win for Blues over luckless Cardiff
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has probably saved head coach Maurizio Sarri’s job – at least for another week with a 91st minute winning goal that saw off relegation-haunted Cardiff City 2-1 in the Welsh capital this afternoon in a madcap last six minutes that turned the game on its head.
Chelsea were terrible, and they had a major slice of luck as their equaliser six minutes from time from Cesar Azpilicueta saw the defender yards offside.
The Bluebirds were dogged and deserved to take the lead seconds into the second half through Victor Camarasa.
The Londoners, had not had a effort on target up, to that point – which had stretched back to their win against Fulham and this allowed the home side to gain confidence.
Travelling fans were chanting for Sarri’s head and but for the major error by the officials that led to the equaliser, it could well have come this week – the Blues face Brighton, at home on Wednesday night.
Chelsea dominated the early possession stakes, without getting too far forward.
However, on 11 minutes, Pedro found himself with the ball in the final third and went on a little run. It saw him attempt a curling left -footer, which just inched over Neil Etheridge’s crossbar.
Joshua Murphy was equally unlucky two minutes later, his effort, on the right, zipped past Kepa Arrizabalaga’s right post.
A Willian free-kick on 38 minutes pulled the fans out of their slumber, but it was a poor effort and went well wide.
There were no changes at half time, but within a minute of the restart, the home side struck through a beauty of a right-footed half-volley from, Victor after Harry Arter’s right wing cross.
Pedro left the pitch apparently with a groin strain – Eden Hazard entered the fray.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced ineffectual Jorginho on 64 minutes in an attempt to inject some creativity and pace into the performance.
With calls for Callum Hudson-Odoi reverberating from the travelling supporters, Sarri opted to bring on Olivier Giroud instead, on 77 minutes – Gonzalo Higuain came off. The fans responded with ‘You don’t know what you’re doing, and ‘We want Sarri out.’
The last time the fans called for a manager’s head was during Rafa Benitez’s reign as interim manager.
The mood suddenly changed with six minutes left when Cesar Azpilicueta nodded home from close range.
Incredibly, the skipper was yards offside from Alonso’s glancing header from a Willian corner.
Even more incredible was that the Blues snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, seconds from time when provider Willian sent in another cross from the right, Loftus-Cheek burst through and directed a header, low and past Etheridge’s outstretched left hand.
The home side had no luck at all, Chelsea deserved nothing but managed to take home the full three points that keeps them sixth in the Premier League.
Teams: Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Barkley, Higuain, Pedro, Kovacic, Willian, Azpilicueta, Luiz
Subs: Caballero, Kante, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Christensen
Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Bennett, Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Arter, Murphy, Gunnarsson, Camarasa, Niasse, Hoilett
Subs: Murphy, Ralls, Zohore, Decordova-Reading, Bacuna, Mendez-Laing, Harris