Chelsea 4, Norwich City 1
PUBLISHED: 17:03 06 October 2012 | UPDATED: 11:22 10 October 2012
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Premier League leaders Chelsea inflicted another heavy defeat on Norwich City as they scored three times in 17 minutes in the opening half at Stamford Bridge.
A 4-1 defeat, their third in a row, left Chris Hughton’s men second from bottom with just three points from their first seven matches as they go into the second international break of the season.
The Canaries in fact made a dream start when skipper Grant Holt fired them ahead in the 11th minute after Leon Barnett nodded down Wes Hoolahan’s cross.
But three goals in quick succession rocked them back on their heels and put the European champions in control.
It took Chelsea just three minutes to equalise when Fernando Torres headed in a cross from Branislav Ivanovic.
Frank Lampard made it 2-1 after a Torres overhead kick was blocked, and Eden Hazard scored the third goal from Juan Mata’s pass as the Blues counter-attacked from a Norwich corner.
Holt might have reduced the arrears with headers that flew wide either side of the interval, but Chelsea generally looked comfortable with their lead in the second period and extended it on 76 minutes when Ivanovic volleyed past John Ruddy.
City boss Hughton made five changes after the 5-2 home defeat by Liverpool.
Defender Sebastien Bassong returned from a hamstring injury, while there was a first Premier League start for Norway international Alex Tettey and there were recalls for Elliott Bennett, Hoolahan and Holt.
Out of the side that started against the Reds, out went Michael Turner, Robert Snodgrass, Andrew Surman, Steve Morison and Simeon Jackson.
All those except Surman were on the substitutes’ bench, where Anthony Pilkington returned after a back injury.
Chelsea showed one change from the team that started the 2-1 win at Arsenal, Frank Lampard returning at the expense of Ramires.
Former City loan defender Ryan Bertrand was among the substitutes.
The Canaries were looking for their first league win of the season and their first at Chelsea since 1993.
They started with four across midfield, Elliott Bennett and Johnson playing the wide roles, and Hoolahan operating behind the one striker, Holt.
With just three minutes gone, Chelsea might have taken the lead. Torres was presented with a great opening when Lampard’s ball left him clear of the City back four as the flag stayed down, but the Spaniard took just long enough for Barnett to get across and dispossess him as he shaped to shoot.
Tettey made a timely interception to stop Hazard getting in a shot from Cole’s low cross as the hosts pressed again.
But in the 11th minute, City took the lead with a beautifully-worked goal from captain Holt.
Hoolahan was the architect with a cross beyond the far post and Barnett nodded it back perfectly for Holt to fire home on the bounce – a well executed finish as he drilled it past Cech.
It took the Blues just three minutes to equalise, however, as Torres headed his sixth goal of the season.
Lampard’s diagonal ball found Mata, whose backheel set up Ivanovic for a cross from the right and Torres got above Barnett to beat Ruddy with a firm header.
Ruddy gathered Hazard’s miscued volley from a Torres cross as Chelsea looked for a second goal.
Undaunted, City pushed forward again and after Tettey misdirected a header from Hoolahan’s cross, Russell Martin centred and Johnson fired goalwards, but straight at Cech.
Chelsea continued to press, however, and midway through the half Lampard put them into the lead.
As City struggled to get the ball away, Torres attempted an overhead kick that was blocked, but the ball broke to Lampard just inside the area, and he struck a well-placed shot past the outstretched legs of Howson and Elliott Bennett and just inside the post.
Cole headed wide from as cross by Oscar when he could have made it 3-1 as the Canaries continued to look vulnerable.
Johnson’s enthusiasm left both Mikel and Luiz on the floor after challenges that might have earned him a yellow card, but referee Taylor was in generous mood.
On the half-hour, however, Chelsea extended their lead, scoring from a counter-attack from a Norwich corner.
Elliott Bennett’s kick was headed clear by Terry and Mata got the better of Hoolahan as the two men went for the clearance before setting off on a 50-yard run and slipping the ball sideways for Hazard to sidefoot his shot beyond Ruddy.
A cross from Hoolahan almost provided a way back into the game for City as Terry slid in to concede another corner.
Mikel tried his luck from long range after a short corner as Chelsea pressed again.
Oscar almost joined his colleagues on the scoresheet after Cole, Mata and Lampard worked him a shooting chance, but Ruddy dived to keep out his low effort.
As the interval approached, Holt headed just off target from Johnson’s cross after escaping the attention of Terry once again, but may feel he should have done better.
• Half-time: Chelsea 3, Norwich City 1
Soon after the restart, Holt went closer still with a header from another Johnson cross that went just the wrong side of the post.
There were shouts for a penalty when Hazard’s path to goal appeared to be blocked by Barnett, who was waiting for Ruddy to come and collect the ball, but the referee was unimpressed.
Tettey shot well wide as City tried the long-range route to goal, and Ruddy saved from Oscar at the other end as Chelsea looked for a fourth.
Ruddy saved from Mata as they threatened again, and Hazard took a rather optimistic tumble over Howson as the ball ran loose.
A promising move from City was spoiled by a poor crossfield ball from Tettey and, midway through the second half, Chelsea made their first change as Ramires replaced Lampard.
Hughton then made his first substitution as Pilkington was sent on for Johnson, and the substitute was soon in the action, getting his head to an Elliott Bennett cross but unable to direct it goalwards.
With 15 minutes left, Ruddy produced a fine save to deny Torres at close range after he played a one-two with Mata.
But a minute later, Ruddy was beaten for the fourth time. Mata appeared to mis-control the ball as a cross came in from the left, but it fell perfectly for Ivanovic to volley powerfully past the keeper, even though he got both hands to the shot.
It was all change as City replaced Holt and Bassong with Morison and Ryan Bennett, while goalscorer Ivanovic made way for Azpilicueta.
The last change came when Romeu replaced Mikel, and it might have been 5-1 when Terry headed wide after Torres flicked on Mata’s free-kick.
Romeu almost fluked a goal when he blocked Ryan Bennett’s headed clearance with his chest and the ball flew just wide.
• Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic (Azpilicueta, 78), Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel (Romeu, 83), Lampard (Ramires, 67); Mata, Oscar; Hazard, Torres. Subs (not used): Turnbull, Bertrand, Cahill, Moses.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Bassong (Ryan Bennett, 78), Garrido; Elliott Bennett, Howson, Tettey, Johnson (Pilkington, 68); Hoolahan; Holt (Morison, 77). Subs (not used): Bunn, Turner, Snodgrass, Jackson.
• Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester)
• Attendance: 41,784
• Goals: Chelsea: Torres (14), Lampard (22), Hazard (31), Ivanovic (76). City: Holt (11).