Chelsea maintained their position at the top of the English Premier League with a comfortable 4-1 win over Norwich City on Saturday.
The visitors opened the scoring against the run of play through Grant Holt but were pegged back minutes later by Fernando Torres’ header, before the hosts pulled clear, with Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard getting on the scoresheet before half-time.
Chelsea dominated the second period in similar fashion but were forced to wait until the 75th minute for their fourth goal, as Branislav Ivanovic volleyed emphatically home.
It was unsurprising to see in-form Chelsea begin the encounter in confident mood, stroking the ball around a nervous-looking Norwich.
And the hosts almost had reward for their early domination but saw Torres dither after beating the offside trap, allowing Leon Barnett back in to snuff out the danger.
That let-off seemed to spark Norwich to life, but few inside Stamford Bridge would have expected the Canaries to go up the other end and grab the first goal with 11 minutes on the clock.
Wes Hoolahan’s floated ball to the far post found Barnett, who had remained forward from a set-piece, and the defender coolly nodded down for Holt to finish.
The goal came against the run of play, even at such an early stage, but the hosts wasted little time in amending the injustice.
Just four minutes later a clever Juan Mata back-heel allowed Ivanovic to cross from the right and Torres made no mistake this time, directing his header into the corner after getting a run on Barnett.
With Norwich’s confidence low, it would not take long for the league leaders to get another good chance, and so it proved as Lampard doubled his side’s lead in the 22nd minute.
Torres saw his athletic bicycle-kick attempt repelled by Russell Martin but the ball fell straight to 34-year-old midfielder Lampard, who smashed home from his customary position on the edge of the box.
Seeking to force a way back into the game, Norwich earned a corner, but only succeeded in giving up another goal. After defending the set piece Chelsea cleared their lines as far as Mata, who led the charge up the pitch before intelligently sliding the ball into the path of Hazard for the Belgian to slot past John Ruddy.
Despite some occasional defensive lapses, Roberto Di Matteo’s men were well worth their half-time lead.
The visitors had clearly been rebuked by their manager and showed a defensive steel that had been sorely lacking in the first 45 minutes.
Chelsea eventually bagged their fourth goal with 15 minutes remaining as Mata brilliantly controlled an over-hit cross in the box, teeing up Ivanovic to strike first-time beyond Ruddy.