Chelsea 1 v Norwich City 0
Olivier Giroud scored a late first half goal to see off relegated Norwich City 1-0 in a tepid, coma-inducing match that sees Chelsea go four points clear of Leicester City in third place of the Premier League at the Bridge tonight.
The France striker’s bullet header was the difference between the side - to be fair the Canaries offered nothing, and got nothing, while the Blues offered just a little bit more.
They deserved the three points which was the objective, and a clean sheet will be welcomed but in terms of performance, it was sub-standard for a side with European ambitions.
Chelsea understandably started off the better, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek seeing a glancing header from close-range inch past Tim Krul’s goal after three minutes.
But the Blues soon fell into the pass for the sake of passing as Norwich sat back and absorbed the minimum pressure exerted by the home side.
Olivier Giroud had a glorious chance to score on 20 minutes, but the France hit man changed his mind at the last second and, instead of smashing the ball, he tried to chip, Krul - the ball went straight into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Krul produced a wonderful save, tipping onto the crossbar and for a corner, a Christian Pulisic turn and shot from just inside the Norwich penalty area.
Deep into added time, Pulisic zipped past Todd Cantwell. The US winger sent over the perfect cross from the left where Giroud reacted the quickest and his diving header crashed past Krul to open the scoring.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
It was same old,same old at the start of the second 45 minutes - livened by Willian who saw his goal-bound effort deflected for a corner.
Ross Barkley entered the fray on 67 minutes for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
A piece of inspirational play by Giroud - a clever chip, found Pulisic, but the wide man’s volley, was well parried away by Krul on 76 minutes.
A deep Azpilicueta cross was met full on the head by in-running Marcos Alonso, but Krul was once again on the spot to smother the effort.
Lampard decided to bring on Reece James and Hudson-Odoi for Alonso and Pulisic in an attempt to increase the tempo, which had almost reaching standing still point.
An excellent passage of play with five minutes to go saw Willian zip in a byline cross. Giroud was unlucky at the near post to see his drive go inches wide.
It was the striker’s last touch as he was replaced by Tammy Abraham.
Next up for the Blues is a FA Cup semi-final, on Sunday, at Wembley against Manchester United.
Kepa, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Zouma, Alonso, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Giroud, Pulisic
Subs: Christensen, Barkley, Abraham, Pedro, Caballero, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, James, Tomori,
Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis, Tettey, Hernandez, McLean, Rupp, Cantwell, Drmic
Subs: Vrancic, Buendia, Stiepermann, Trybull, Pukki, McGovern, Idah, Thomas, Martin
Referee: Jonathan Moss