Chelsea assured their place in the Champions League in clinical fashion against Wolves this afternoon.
Two goals in first-half injury time settled many nerves in West London, and settled a game that had been in danger of slipping into despairing territory.
Wolves started the game the brighter, passing crisply around an organised midfield line. Chances were hard to come by for both sides, with nerves clearly dominating the opening exchanges.
This was momentarily interrupted by a golden opportunity for Olivier Giroud, against the run of play, putting a free header over the bar from a Mason Mount delivery.
Neither goalkeeper had much to do before injury time, with both back-threes dominating their attacking counterparts.
The deadlock was broken by individual brilliance, coming from a fortunate refereeing decision mirroring Liverpool’s opener on Wednesday night. Mateo Kovacic won an unconvincing free kick on the edge of the penalty area, which was spectacularly converted by Mason Mount.
This was compounded by another moment of individual genius, this time from Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman scored his fourth goal in first half injury time since the restart almost immediately afterward Mount’s opener. After receiving a smart through-ball Giroud cooly rounded Rui Patricio, and brutally wrestled past Conor Coady to stab into the empty net.
These goals virtually assured the Blues a seat at Europe’s top table by the break, with a titanic Wolves comeback and a Leicester winner at the King Power needed to topple them.
In the event, neither threatened to occur – as Chelsea clinically closed out the final forty-five. Wolves threatened little in the second period, despite the entry of dangerous Adama Traore in place of ineffective Pedro Neto.
The hosts looked the more dangerous of the two sides after the break, with Olivier Giroud firing over from inside the box.
The rhythm of the match was disturbed slightly by both manager’s use of substitutions; with Nuno bringing on three on the hour mark. Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi were brought on by Frank Lampard, each looking likely on their introduction to the game
Chelsea’s place in Europe’s elite became even closer, as news of a Bruno Fernandes opener at the King Power filtered to Stamford Bridge.
With their place all but secure, Chelsea enjoyed the closing phases, dominating possession and frequently venturing into Wolves’ final third. Tammy Abraham was unlucky to not get on the scoresheet, narrowly missing the target after smart buildup from Christian Pulisic.
The final whistle marked celebrations amongst the Chelsea bench, joined by new recruit Timo Werner who had arrived in London hours earlier.
All eyes will now turn to Saturday’s FA Cup Final against Arsenal, with Frank Lampard’s charges aiming for their first piece of silverware in this exciting new project for the club.
What did you think of the performance today? Do you think we can carry our momentum to FA Cup Glory? Let us know in the comments below!