HUDDERSFIELD, England, (Reuters) – Third-placed Chelsea put in a determined performance as they returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League yesterday.
Goals from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro put Chelsea 3-0 ahead after 50 minutes before Huddersfield got a late consolation through substitute Laurent Depoitre. The win put Chelsea level on 35 points with second-placed Manchester United and 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, with both Manchester clubs playing today.
After losing to West Ham United on Saturday, Chelsea needed to quickly get back on track and David Wagner’s promoted Huddersfield side provided little resistance.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte left regular skipper Gary Cahill on the bench and in the absence of the injured Alvaro Morata played with Eden Hazard as the central striker with Willian and Pedro providing the attacking width.
Huddersfield had beaten Manchester United at the John Smith’s Stadium but Wagner’s gameplan, from the outset, was for his team to defend deep and try to frustrate the champions.
That gave Chelsea space and time on the ball in midfield which they accepted gleefully and took a firm grip on the game.
After an early Pedro effort was rightly ruled out for offside, Chelsea went in front after 23 minutes when a poor clearance from Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl put the home defence under pressure. Hazard flicked the ball to Willian who found Bakayoko who fired home confidently. Chelsea doubled their lead two minutes before the break when Marcos Alonso’s fine cross from the left was met by Willian at the back post, the Brazilian powering his header past Lossl.
It was hard to see a way back into the game for the Yorkshire side, who lacked the dynamism and drive they have shown in other home games, and any lingering hope of a fightback vanished five minutes after restart.
Willian kept his marker at bay to lay-off an Alonso cross to Pedro who superbly curled a side-foot shot into the far corner.
Pedro went close again in the 68th minute, the Spaniard driving wide at the end of a swift counter-attack after he was cleverly set-up by a delightful touch from Hazard.
The Belgian was then taken off, with Michy Batshuayi filling his place in the Chelsea attack.
Huddersfield, who are 12th on 18 points, got an added time consolation through substitute Depoitre’s fine glancing header.