Plaudits are cold comfort for Norwich City after Chelsea inflict late blows

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Anthony Pilkington Norwich celeb ChelseaPA PhotosAnthony Pilkington headed home to make it 1-1 against Chelsea.

Norwich will not be the last team to feel a sense of injustice after Chelsea's evolution under Jose Mourinho took a great leap forward in a 3-1 Premier League win at Carrow Road.

- Report: Norwich City 1-3 Chelsea

The Canaries were full value for a second half leveller, when Anthony Pilkington edged out David Luiz after Oscar had rifled the Blues ahead early on, but Eden Hazard and Willian's devastating late introductions from the bench earned Mourinho's men the points.

The Portuguese boss led the touchline tributes to Willian's stunning strike from the edge of the area that powered beyond the sprawling dive of England international John Ruddy. Celebrations tinged with relief, one suspects, at the stern examination his side had survived in Norfolk.

It provided fresh evidence that Jose's Second Coming could end in further success at Stamford Bridge after recent stirrings against Tottenham in a London league derby and Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League over the past week.

If there was a stark reminder of the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, it was in the replacements at the disposal of the respective managers. Chelsea's bench was packed with seven full internationals and two of the brightest attacking midfielders in Europe who tilted this pulsating contest in favour of the visitors.

Chris Hughton was an accomplished defender in his playing days and the Norwich boss will be greatly irked at the manner of Chelsea's pivotal second goal. Pilkington's corner was cleared at the opposite end in the midst of a home onslaught, but Alex Tettey was still providing cover until the Norwegian's miscued clearance was pounced on by Hazard who drilled underneath Ruddy from 16 yards. The City keeper manfully attempted to claw the spinning ball back across his goal-line but the damage was already done. Willian's fizzing effort merely applied the coup de grace.

Norwich's support vented their collective frustrations towards Hughton and his players last time out after Paul Lambert's Aston Villa had left with maximum points. This time the full-whistle was merely the trigger for prolonged applause in appreciation at City's attempts to unsettle one of the genuine Premier League title contenders.

Norwich should approach the pending international break with renewed belief they can compete in the top flight. This was another step in the right direction after last weekend's priceless away win at Stoke.

Chelsea's early onslaught may have buried many other rivals, with Demba Ba a marauding presence to unsettle Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner. City managed to clear their heads and pinned the Blues back for sustained spells as the first half elapsed. Jonny Howson continued where he had left off at the Britannia with a metronomic tempo set in central midfield allowing Leroy Fer and the two wide players to support the tireless Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The Dutchman's search for a second Premier League goal following his opening day strike against Everton continues, but his pivotal assist served up a simple glancing close range flick for Pilkington.

Everywhere you looked there were positives for the Canaries to cling to once the inevitable despondency lifts after pushing Mourinho's men to the brink.


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