A controversial goal sparked a late comeback as Chelsea defeated Cardiff City 2-1 in a performance that led the Blues fans to chant for Maurizio Sarri’s exit.
The Blues were poor for almost the entire 90 minutes and Victor Camarasa’s early second-half goal looked to be the moment that secured the hosts a vital three points.
However, a goal from César Azpilicueta – who was clearly offside – and a late header from Ruben Loftus-Cheek meant that Sarri’s side snuck away from Wales’ capital with the win.
The result means Chelsea keep the pace with the top-four while Cardiff are now languishing in the relegation zone with just seven games to go.
Here are some of the winners and losers from Chelsea’s late 2-1 victory against Cardiff.
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The talented midfielder was Chelsea’s saviour today, popping up in the last moments to secure the three points for the visitors this afternoon.
Coming off from the bench, Loftus-Cheek headed home in added time and perhaps reminded Sarri that he – along with Hudson-Odoi and well-worth their place among the starting eleven.
The England international has scored four goals in the Premier League this season but this was most likely the most important one of the lot to date.
“We want Sarri out, we want Sarri out”.
The cries of the travelling support this Sunday afternoon.
His side’s performance this afternoon lacked conviction, movement and any real quality – with Eden Hazard, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all starting on the bench – and is now a real cause for concern.
Their form has been dreadful since the turn of the year, conceding 14 goals in the last five away league matches.
One man not happy with Sarri is former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher who blasted the Chelsea boss for not watching Callum Hudson-Odoi on England international duty last week.
He said: “I can just imagine the people above Sarri just shaking their head and thinking ‘why are you saying such a stupid thing in the press conference? We are trying to get this lad to sign a contract.'”
Sarri’s stubborn attitude to keep to his system has seen his side slip out the top-four, struggle to bleed through promising English stars and ultimately, if things stay this way, could cost him his future at the club.
Signed in the summer following their promotion to the Premier League, Camarasa has provided some moments of quality throughout the season and today was one of those moments.
Harry Arter passed the ball into the box and from about 16 yards out, the playmaker guided the ball home with a deftly placed shot – making it seem easier than it was – to put the Welsh side 1-0 up straight after half-time.
5 – Victor Camarasa has scored more goals (5) than any other Cardiff City player in the Premier League this season. Source. #CARCHE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 31, 2019
It was his second goal in successive home games and his fifth of the season so far, causing the home supporters to erupt as the shot nestled past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The goal came at a perfect time for the hosts who knew any point picked up in today’s fixture would be key in their bid for Premier League survival.
Tottenham, Man Utd & Arsenal
The race for a place in the Premier League’s top-four is hotting up as the season draws to an end.
With Liverpool and Manchester City certainties for a top-two finish, there are four teams battling it out for a place in next season’s Champions League.
It looked as though that perhaps that was turning into three, with Chelsea close to blowing a real opportunity to put pressure on the sides above them who – Tottenham’s current form aside – seem to be in a better position to fight for the honour.
However, Chelsea’s last-gasp turnaround means that they keep up with the side’s above them and put further pressure on Tottenham Hotspur who play Liverpool this afternoon.
Burnley, Southampton and Brighton
In contrast with those fighting for a top-four place, these three sides will all be absolutely delighted with Cardiff’s late defeat against the former Premier League champions.
Cardiff sat five points behind all three sides prior to kick-off but it seemed as though that gap was going to be closed to just two points, with Camarasa’s strike looking like the potential match-winner.
However, heartbreak for the Welsh side meant that there is now a sizable gap at the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures, with Neil Warnock’s side left with a massive task to close that before the season is out.
Up next for the Bluebirds? Why it’s Manchester City of course.
Coming off the back of a successful call-up to the senior England squad, CHO’s time with Gareth Southgate surely highlighted his consistent frustrations at Stamford Bridge this season under Maurizio Sarri.
Rather than fill the player with confidence, Sarri implied that he didn’t watch too much of CHO’s performance against Montenegro last week and continued to stress that the winger needs to “improve more”.
With Chelsea struggling to provide any regular attacking intent in Cardiff, CHO was forced to watch from the bench, still waiting for his first Premier League start for the Blues.
Time away with England, praise from the media and contact with others of a similar age who play regularly for their respective clubs, will only conspire to convince CHO that a move away from west London is the best step at this stage of his career.