Cardiff 1-2 Chelsea: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Blues Snatch Controversial Late Victory

Chelsea snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Cardiff late on at the Cardiff City Stadium in controversial circumstances on Sunday.

Following a goalless first half in which Cardiff generally frustrated Chelsea and ensured that the visitors could not capitalise on their dominance in possession, the Bluebirds stunned Maurizio Sarri’s side within a minute of the second half.

Cardiff worked a throw-in well, playing the ball inside before Victor Camarasa produced an instinctive effort to bend a Harry Arter cross into the top corner with a stunning first-time finish.

The Bluebirds appeared relatively comfortable in holding their lead with ​Chelsea continuing to struggle in their attempts to break the home side down, but the visitors cranked up the pressure in the final ten minutes. Cesar Azpilicueta, from a clear offside position, pounced on Marcos Alonso’s flick-on from a corner to turn home the equaliser on the 84th minute.

The goal stood, but the drama was not over. Neil Warnock was still berating the officials for allowing the equaliser when Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed home from a Willian cross to steal all three points in stoppage time, leaving the Cardiff City stadium stunned.


Key Talking Point

​Cardiff’s performance was some way short of a vintage display of exciting football, but that was never going to be the Bluebirds’ approach to facing Chelsea at home. The game demanded a typically resolute, plucky and disciplined display from Neil Warnock’s side, and that was exactly what they delivered.

The home side’s backline held firm and frustrated Chelsea in their attempts to engineer a breakthrough, resulting in the visitors’ passing moves generally breaking down in the final third and forcing Maurizio Sarri’s side to unsuccessfully force long passes.

Warnock’s side are unlikely to be able to match any Premier League side in terms of technical ability, but their battling qualities and fighting spirit are up there with the best in the division.



Player Ratings

Starting XI: Etheridge (7); Peltier (6), Morrison (8), Manga (7), Bennett (6); Gunnarsson (7), Arter (8*); Murphy (6), Camarasa (8), Hoilett (7); Niasse (7)

Neil Warnock,Maurizio Sarri

Substitutes: Ralls (N/A), Zohore (N/A), Mendez-Laing (N/A)

STAR MAN – Much of Cardiff’s industrious style of play requires high levels of energy and intensity in central areas, and Harry Arter provided both in abundance on Sunday. The midfielder covered huge amounts of ground throughout the game and epitomised the Bluebirds’ grit and determination to frustrate Chelsea and impose themselves on the game. The midfielder also laid on the assist for Victor Camarasa’s opening goal.




Key Talking Point

Maurizio Sarri made a number of big calls in his team selection on Sunday. The Italian opted to leave star men ​Eden Hazard and ​N’Golo Kante on the bench, whilst also resisting calls to start emerging star Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The team set out with plenty of purpose from the outset in a bid to justify Sarri’s selections, as Ross Barkley in particularly looked to drive his side forward from midfield and stake his claim for a more regular place, but the visitors generally lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Passes all too often went astray in the key areas following patient build-up play, and the Blues lacked a figure in Hazard’s mould to unlock the Cardiff backline with that extra level of quality that the Belgian typically provides when selected. Sarri’s selection was bold and justified in terms of maintaining freshness, but not so much in terms of making their superiority count.

Chelsea grew frustrated the longer the game wore on without them finding the breakthrough, often resorting to playing long and hopeless balls over the top, and Cardiff’s belief that they could keep the visitors at bay grew with each minute.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (6); Azpilicueta (6), Rudiger (5), Luiz (6), Alonso (6); Kovacic (6), Jorginho (5), Barkley (7); Pedro (6), Higuain (5), Willian (6)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Substitutes: Hazard (6), Loftus-Cheek (6), Giroud (5)

STAR MAN – With Chelsea generally lacking any telling cutting edge in the final third at the Cardiff City Stadium, Ross Barkley was the one who looked most capable of unlocking a stern Cardiff rear-guard with some powerful and purposeful runs from midfield. The attacks generally broke down in the final third as the Bluebirds’ defence stood firm, but Barkley provided the visitors’ only remote source of attacking inspiration.

Looking Ahead

Cardiff face another huge test next time out in the Premier League when they take on champions ​Manchester City on Wednesday before travelling to face ​Burnley at Turf Moor next Saturday.

Meanwhile, Chelsea follow up their trip to Cardiff with two consecutive home games at Stamford Bridge, with ​Brighton first up on Wednesday, followed by London rivals ​West Ham next Monday.


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