Just three days before their FA Cup semi-final with Southampton, Chelsea travelled to Turf Moor to face an in-form Burnley side. The Blues made sure they didn’t slip up with a 2-1 victory thanks to Victor Moses’ winner after Ashley Barnes had cancelled out Kevin Long’s first-half own goal.
Confident first period
The hosts opted with their high-pressure style from the very start and while it forced Antonio Conte’s men to lump the ball for the opening exchanges, they soon put together some fine passing moves. The first real chance of the match came after 10 minutes, Alvaro Morata was played in by Olivier Giroud’s neat flick but one touch too many made it a tough finish for the Spaniard, which Nick Pope smartly saved.
The visitors’ possession paid off halfway into the first-half as a probing Gary Cahill ball over the top of the Clarets defence found Moses. With a few yards of space, the Nigerian crossed from the right and in his best efforts to stop the ball, Pope parried it onto Long’s foot and into the back of the net.
A few dangerous Burnley crosses presented warning signs for Thibaut Courtois and his defensive line but they ultimately led to nothing. Morata and N’Golo Kante both had chances to double the advantage but neither could quite find their shooting boots as the first 45 minutes ended with Chelsea 1-0 up, a margin that should’ve been one or two more.
Lead restored after equaliser
The message from Sean Dyche at half-time was clearly for his side to hunt for an equaliser while Conte’s side looked to pen them back in their own penalty area. For a start, this plan worked for the champions as Morata was put through one-on-one by Kante, only to see his shot go inches wide of the target.
He was made to rue that missed chance just minutes later as his opposite number (rather flukily) brought his side level. Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson took a speculative shot from 20 yards which deflected off Barnes and into Courtois’ gaping net after he had dived the other way. It was a lot more than Burnley deserved but it meant Chelsea had to positively respond in the remaining half an hour.
They did just that courtesy of Moses just five minutes later. Giroud’s failed scorpion attempt baffled the Clarets defence, leaving the ball to fall for the right wing-back who expertly blasted a low drive into the bottom corner. Not only did it restore the one-goal lead but also any slim chance of a Champions League finish for the fifth-placed side.
Despite being a goal down, Burnley succumbed to more Chelsea pressure which made the 2-1 result much more comfortable in the end for Conte and his players. While it’s a long shot at best, there still is the possibility that the Blues will be featuring in next season’s Champions League. Up next for them is a trip to Wembley.