London, Jul 14 (efe-epa).- Olivier Giroud’s goal just before half-time turned out to be all Chelsea would need here Tuesday to beat relegated Norwich City 1-0 and shore up their chances of grabbing one of the two remaining Champions League slots.
The Blues stay third in the Premier League with 63 points, 4 more than Leicester City and Manchester Union, who each have a game in hand.
Premier League winners Liverpool and second-place Manchester City have locked-up the top two Champions berths, leaving Chelsea, Leicester, Man United and – possibly – Wolverhampton to battle for third and fourth place.
Chelsea badly needed a victory after their embarrassing 3-0 loss last weekend to Sheffield United, which would have cost the London club a lot more if both Leicester and the Red Devils hadn’t fallen to Bournemouth and Southampton, respectively.
And even with Tuesday’s positive result at Stamford Bridge, a top-four finish is far from a sure thing when the Blues have to face Liverpool and Wolves in their final two games of the season.
Though the hosts enjoyed 69 percent possession and outshot the Canaries 18-2, they created only a handful of a quality chances against a Norwich squad desperate to avoid ending the campaign with the fewest points in Premier League history.
A shot by Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic hit the cross-bar and the teams looked set to go to the dressing room knotted 0-0 until three minutes into first-half stoppage time, when the US international sent a cross into the area for Giroud, who headed past Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul.
The Blues sought a second goal to seal the 3 points, yet Giroud’s strike would prove sufficient in light of the Canaries’ virtually non-existent attack.
Chelsea coach Frank Lampard, who made no effort to hide his disgust with the team’s performance after the defeat by Sheffield, expressed satisfaction with Tuesday’s outcome.
“It was OK. Listen, I shouldn’t joke because at this stage of the season results are critical, and we didn’t concede any chances of note. We created a few ourselves, could have scored more. It was OK. Professional would be a word. I want more but that can wait. For where we are, three points is everything tonight,” he told reporters.
“We can do better, but I don’t want to be too critical after three points at this stage of the season. So I’m pleased,” Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer said. EFE msg/dr