Premier League: Norwich City 0 Chelsea 1
By Football News
Chelsea maintained their recent run of good form thanks to a comfortable 1-0 win at Norwich City on Boxing Day.
The hosts started the game well, enjoying lots of possession, but their inability to carve open chances saw them pay as Juan Mata gave Rafa Benitez's side the lead just before half-time.
Chelsea's control continued after the break, forcing Norwich to play on the counterattack, but with neither side creating too many opportunities, a bag of goals never looked likely.
In a tight opening, Norwich strung together several passes in the Chelsea half, yet the visitors' defence remained solid.
Norwich looked to have a good chance when Chelsea poorly cleared a Javier Garrido cross, but Alex Tettey's half-volley was horribly sliced and it went out for a throw-in.
The visitors soon managed their first effort through Mata, who put his shot wide from six yards.
Around the half-hour mark Chelsea began to take control as Mata got himself involved a little more, though Norwich's defence stood firm.
However, in the 38th minute Oscar did well to retain possession in the centre before finding Mata on the edge of the box, the Spaniard smashing an effort into the far side of the net to open the scoring.
Bradley Johnson saw a near-post header go just over a few minutes later, but Chelsea went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea controlled possession and looked comfortable in the second half, knocking the ball around in a confident manner, while Norwich attempted to spring counterattacks.
For all their possession, however, Benitez's men could not get past the Norwich defence, much like their hosts in the first period.
Benitez's decision to introduce Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard created more attacking flair in the final third and Mata could have netted his second as he headed just wide from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross.
Chris Hughton's charges could not assert themselves enough on the dominating Chelsea to carve out a valuable equaliser, and slumped to their second defeat on the trot after going 10 games unbeaten.