Premier League: Blues supersubs show they’re not to be sniffed at

Frank Dalleres
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CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho relished a gamble that paid off yesterday after his decision to go for broke snatched a first Premier League away victory of the season from the jaws of defeat at Norwich.

The Blues looked vulnerable when midfielder Anthony Pilkington’s header cancelled out Oscar’s fine opener, but Mourinho threw on Eden Hazard and Willian and both men scored in the final 10 minutes.

“[If] they change the game, the manager did very well. If they come on and make it worse, it’s a very bad decision by the manager,” said Mourinho, whose team climbed to third, two points behind Arsenal and Liverpool. “We could have won or lost it at 1-1 because, at that moment, we didn’t want a point. If they had scored a second goal, we would probably lose, but we are trying to be top.”

Mourinho admitted fearing the worst when striker Demba Ba, making only his second start of the season, missed a routine chance to put the visitors two goals ahead.

“During the game I am not nervous; I have feelings, I smell things,” he added. “And when that easy goal was missed, I had a smell that they would score a goal. That is why I had Eden warming up at 1-0, because I smelled that.”

Defeat nudged Norwich into the relegation zone on goal difference and looked likely from the fourth minute when Oscar put Chelsea in front with an immaculate, fading, first-time finish from Ba’s lay-off.

Ba was proving a handful but was denied a goal when John Ruddy tipped a low shot wide, while at the other end John Terry smartly hooked clear as Jonny Howson waited for the ball to drop.

Pilkington nodded the equaliser in the 68th minute after striker Ricky van Wolkswinkel had headed a Martin Olsson centre across goal, prompting Mourinho to roll the dice.

Five minutes from time it paid off, Hazard pouncing on Alex Tettey’s fluffed attempt to clear a sweeping counter-attack. Willian capped the victory seconds later with his first since joining in August, a magnificent left-footed shot whipped into the far top corner.