Tuesday 25 June 2019

Hendrick dents Chelsea's drive for top four

Chelsea 2 Burnley 2

Jeff Hendrick celebrates after scoring Burnley’s opening goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Jeff Hendrick celebrates after scoring Burnley’s opening goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Matt Law

It may have been billed as a top-four race, but in reality it has turned into more of a stumble with Chelsea becoming the latest club to pass up the chance of taking the initiative.

It may have been billed as a top-four race, but in reality it has turned into more of a stumble with Chelsea becoming the latest club to pass up the chance of taking the initiative.

Following a weekend in which Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal lost, Chelsea, who again played in front of a number of empty seats, failed to register what would have been a key win.

They may not have lost against Burnley and a draw, courtesy of goals from N'Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain, moved them into the top four, but Chelsea remain very much within touching distance for Arsenal and United.

Maurizio Sarri, the Chelsea manager, was sent from the touchline in stoppage time and there were ugly scenes at full time as Burnley goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer had to be restrained after clashing with opposite number Massimo Nenci, fitness coach Paolo Bertelli and Antonio Rudiger, who had been in the stands because of injury.

Assistant Gianfranco Zola tried to explain why Sarri was sent from the touchline by referee Kevin Friend.

Burnley's Ashley Barnes in action with Chelsea's Andreas Christensen. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Burnley's Ashley Barnes in action with Chelsea's Andreas Christensen. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

"He went down the line to tell the players to get on with the game and that's been misinterpreted by Kevin. I'm unhappy about it and he is," said Zola.

"When he (Sarri) is on the touchline he moves around a lot because he's very emotional, today he didn't come out (of his technical area) too much. When he went there Kevin misinterpreted what he wanted to do. He just wanted to calm our players down."

Other than being annoyed by Burnley, Sarri will be sweating over the fitness of Kante and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who were both forced off, and Willian, who missed out with a groin injury, ahead of the crucial trip to United.

Burnley may not be mathematically safe from the drop, but goals from Jeff Hendrick and the in-form Ashley Barnes meant they effectively secured another season in the Premier League.

Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Burnley's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek (left) and Burnley's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Those Chelsea fans who opted to stay away or were put off by bank holiday travel chaos may have been regretting their decision after watching the first 24 minutes.

Chelsea started like a train, with Eden Hazard forcing goalkeeper Tom Heaton into a second-minute save and Ben Mee clearing off the line from Higuain, and yet the hosts fell behind in the eighth minute.

Dwight McNeil's corner was headed out by Cesar Azpilicueta, but Hendrick produced a superb right-foot volley to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga.

But six minutes later Chelsea were ahead. Hazard was at his unstoppable best as he turned Matt Lowton inside out before putting the right-back on his backside and squaring the ball for Kante to score.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is sent off from the touchline. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is sent off from the touchline. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Higuain then produced his own piece of brilliance to fire Chelsea into the lead.

The Argentinian received a pass from Jorginho and pirouetted his way into the penalty area before playing a one-two with Azpilicueta and giving Heaton no chance with a rising shot.

Chelsea looked ready to go further ahead as Ruben Loftus-Cheek curled a shot narrowly over the bar, but Sarri's men were caught out by another set-piece.

This time Ashley Westwood floated a free-kick to the back post, where Mee headed the ball back across goal, Chris Wood flicked it on and Barnes netted from close range.

The hosts once again responded well, with Hazard shooting over and Higuain going close.

It was perhaps understandable that Heaton wanted to take some of the heat out of the game by taking his time over a kick, but referee Kevin Friend decided the goalkeeper deserved a yellow card for time-wasting. Sean Dyche, the Burnley manager, made sure fourth official Roger East knew he was unhappy with the decision, but also received a mouthful from Chelsea substitute Pedro.

Sarri was then upset by the visiting bench and exchanged words with Dyche's assistant Ian Woan, before making a point of standing directly in front of the former Nottingham Forest winger, which prompted complaints to East. Chelsea made a change at the start of the second half, with Mateo Kovacic replacing Kante.

Sarri was involved in another bust-up with the Burnley bench just after the hour mark, when the Italian thought Pedro should have been awarded a free-kick for a challenge from Charlie Taylor.

Several members of the visitors' backroom team were annoyed by Sarri's protests and the Chelsea coach responded by pointing and telling them what he thought.

Heaton saved from Azpilicueta and Loftus-Cheek sent the rebound high over the bar, before Sarri finally called for Olivier Giroud as he searched for a winner.

Higuain, though, was far from happy as he slumped into his seat in the dugout and threw down anything within his reach, including his bib and a water bottle. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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