Mata’s debut goal seals Chelsea win

Chelsea 3 Norwich City 1

Juan Mata scored on his debut to seal victory for Chelsea, although the win was marred by what appeared to be a serious head injury to Didier Drogba.

The Blues striker was taken to hospital for scans after being knocked unconscious in a collision involving Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, who was later sent off.

Jose Bosingwa’s 25-yard screamer put Chelsea ahead before Grant Holt equalised following an error by Hilario.

That left City within sight of a point, but in the 82nd minute Ruddy was dismissed after pulling down Ramires, and Frank Lampard blasted the resulting penalty straight down the middle.

And Mata, on as a second-half substitute, made a dream start to his Chelsea career, pouncing on an injury-time defensive error and curling the ball into the net from a tight angle.

It meant a second scrappy home win for boss Andre-Villas Boas, who also brought Romelu Lukaku on for a debut in the closing minutes.

His recent acquisitions have added to the Portuguese’s attacking and midfield options, but his defence looked far from convincing.

Just as against West Brom last weekend, Chelsea presented the visitors with a goal and then left it late to secure all three points.

For the misunderstanding between Ramires and Alex against Albion, read a mix-up involving Hilario and Branislav Ivanovic that handed Holt his first Premier League goal.

But despite being unconvincing at times, Villas-Boas’ side deserved their win and are certainly capable of producing better performances.

Lampard’s late penalty was crucial

Drogba was handed his first start of the season and with Norwich looking ripe for a sound beating after Bosingwa’s sixth-minute belter, it seemed like the perfect chance for the Ivorian and Fernando Torres to get among the goals.

However, Norwich dug in and might have equalised but for the alertness of Hilario, whose smart save denied Chris Martin after the Canaries striker had been put through on goal by Wes Hoolahan’s pass.

A change by Paul Lambert solidified his team just as they were in danger of being overrun in midfield.

The City boss did not wait until half-time to make a substitution, instead replacing defender Zak Whitbread with wide-man Anthony Pilkington on the half-hour mark.

The switch worked well, although Chelsea stepped up a gear after the break, and Pilkington cleared John Terry’s header off the line before Lampard’s corner was headed wide by Ivanovic.

Norwich’s reward for standing firm was a howler by Hilario, which handed them a 63rd-minute leveller.

The stand-in keeper, playing in place of the injured Petr Cech, needlessly rushed out to try to punch away Kyle Naughton’s cross and got caught in a terrible mess with Ivanovic, allowing Holt to hook the ball over Terry and into the net.

Whereas Hilario failed to connect with that punch, Ruddy inadvertently landed one flush on Drogba while attempting to clear a cross, and the forward was carried off after seven minutes of treatment on the pitch.

That meant Nicolas Anelka came on along with Mata, with the ineffective Florent Malouda – who has been strongly linked with a move from Chelsea – going off.

Mata’s introduction gave the home fans a much needed lift and he immediately demonstrated his ability, serving up a fine left-wing cross which his fellow Spaniard Torres headed straight at Ruddy.

But Ruddy’s luck ran out when he was red-carded after being adjudged to have fouled Ramires. His replacement, youngster Declan Rudd, was left to pick Lampard’s driven spot-kick out of the net.

Drogba’s worrying injury meant there were 11 minutes of stoppage time, which started with Ivanovic missing a sitter and ended with Mata opening his account.

Ivanovic headed woefully wide from five yards out after being picked out by Lampard’s cross, before the classy Mata showed how it’s done, strolling into the area and picking his spot.