Chelsea bounced back from their defeat at West Ham on the weekend with a routine 3-1 victory against Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Chelsea dispatched Huddersfield with relative ease on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro, before Laurent Depoitre got a late consolation for the home side.
On a cold night at the John Smith’s Stadium it was the visitors who started the game on top, as Chelsea were dominating the ball in the opening minutes but failing to threaten the Huddersfield defence.
Pedro had the ball in the back of the net for the away side after seven minutes after racing on to Eden Hazard’s through ball, but he was flagged offside just before he poked the ball under Jonas Lossl in the Huddersfield goal.
Victor Moses was getting a lot of space down the right hand side and played in a number of dangerous crosses but Lossl and the Huddersfield back line stood firm to deny Chelsea any goalscoring opportunities.
Antonio Conte’s side continued to dominate possession as they tried to find a way past the disciplined Terriers defence, and they finally made the breakthrough with their first real chance of the game after 23 minutes.
After Lossl’s miscued clearance, Hazard flicked the ball delightfully into the path of Willian, who in turn fed Tiemoue Bakayoko and the Frenchman powered into the left side of the area before dinking the ball over the onrushing Lossl to give Chelsea the lead they deserved.
Even after going behind, David Wagner’s side struggled to get into the game and any rare foray into the opposition’s half was dealt with comfortably by the Chelsea defence.
Bakayoko came within inches of getting his second goal of the game after 41 minutes as he headed just wide of the far post from Willian’s free-kick in from the right.
The Blues’ possession was relentless and they eventually doubled their lead on 43 minutes with relative ease. Marcos Alonso was afforded too much space on the left and he was able to send a cross into the box which Willian simply headed into the ground past Lossl at the back post to double his side’s lead.
There was still time in the remainder of the half to make it 3-0, but Lossl was out quickly to block Pedro’s effort after he was found in plenty of space on the left side of the area by Hazard.
Chelsea went in at half-time with a deserved 2-0 lead after having all of the possession, despite relatively little goalmouth action.
Things got quickly worse for the home side when five minutes into the second half, Pedro made it 3-0 to the visitors. Huddersfield struggled to clear after Marcos Alonso’s ball into the box and Willian laid the ball back for Pedro, who lashed into the top right corner from around 15 yards out to end the game as a contest.
Hazard was dangerous throughout the game and full of confidence, flicking the ball multiple times to his team-mates, and the Belgian winger went close himself after jinking past two defenders into the area, but Lossl just about got a foot to the shot as Hazard attempted to nutmeg him.
Thibaut Courtois had an extremely quiet opening hour in the Chelsea goal but he did well when he was called into action and he stood up to block Thomas Ince’s attempt at lifting the ball over him into the goal.
Chelsea somewhat took their foot off the gas in the final 20 minutes with the comfortable scoreline, as demonstrated by Conte’s decision to withdraw their star man Hazard for the final stages.
Michy Batshuayi, who replaced Hazard, looked to get in behind the defence but was thwarted by the offside flag on a number of occasions.
Huddersfield started to threaten a consolation goal in the last few minutes and Courtois got down very well to keep the ball out after Premier League debutant Ethan Ampadu nearly deflected a cross into his own goal.
After coming off the bench, Laurent Depoitre did indeed get the late consolation goal in stoppage time for the Terriers as he rose to meet Florent Hadergjonaj’s cross and directed a superb header past Courtois into the far corner to make it 3-1.
Antonio Conte will be disappointed with losing the clean sheet with the last kick of the game but will be happy with his side’s positive performance after the disappointing loss on the weekend. The Italian coach has admitted himself that Chelsea’s title defence is all but over and their priority is now securing a top-four finish, which should be within their reach with more performances like tonight.
Huddersfield were not at the races tonight and the defeat leaves them five points clear of the relegation places, but David Wagner will have seen enough positives from previous games to suggest his side have enough to avoid the drop.