Monday 11 December 2017

Morata inspires but Chelsea fans under fire over anti-Semitic song

Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2

New signing Alvaro Morata was on target for Chelsea at the King Power Stadium. Photo: PA Wire
New signing Alvaro Morata was on target for Chelsea at the King Power Stadium. Photo: PA Wire

Matt Law

Chelsea have ordered their fans to stop singing an anti-Semitic song about record signing Alvaro Morata after the striker scored his third goal for them.

A section of travelling supporters sang "Alvaro, oh, Alvaro, oh. He came from Real Madrid, he hates the f------ Y---" in reference to Chelsea's rivalry with Tottenham Hotspur.

Leicester City's Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez vies with Chelsea's French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. Photo: Getty Images
Leicester City's Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez vies with Chelsea's French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. Photo: Getty Images

But Chelsea, whose owner Roman Abramovich chairs the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, issued a statement that said: "The club and the players appreciate the fans' passionate support away from home. But the language in that song is not acceptable at all. We've spoken to Alvaro after the game. He does not want to be connected with that song in any way and both the club and the player request the supporters stop singing that song with immediate effect."

The song cast a shadow over the team's third successive victory and Morata's impressive start. For a club that supposedly messed up the transfer window, they could be far worse off.

Antonio Conte's men had to hang on to this latest win at times, following Jamie Vardy's penalty, but there are signs that some of Chelsea's summer business will prove to be very wise indeed. Add in the fact that Eden Hazard returned from injury as a late substitute and it is clear Conte's squad is more than capable of making sure the title is not a straight fight between the two Manchester clubs.

Morata netted for the third time with his head in Chelsea colours and, in Europe's top leagues, only Andrea Belotti has scored more headed goals than the Spaniard since August last year.

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte celebrates on the pitch after the match. Photo: Getty Images
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte celebrates on the pitch after the match. Photo: Getty Images

Diego Costa's absence and possible return next week still remains an issue for Chelsea off the pitch, but, on it, Morata is proving there is plenty of life after last season's top scorer. "It's always important for the striker to score," said Conte. "For me, it's very important to see he's improving and always more involved in our idea of football. Then if he scores I'm very happy."

Other than Morata, midfield player Tiemoue Bakayoko showed signs that Nemanja Matic will not be missed quite as much as those inside Manchester United would have you believe.

Bakayoko was a powerful presence in the centre of the pitch and looks like he can form a formidable partnership with N'Golo Kante, who netted a rare goal against his former club.

"To win three in a row is important for the players," said Conte. "It's not easy in England to win, especially if you are the champions and you start in a bad way. But I have great players and I trust them."

It was clear from the early stages that Morata versus Wes Morgan would be a key duel. The Leicester defender produced some good blocks to frustrate the 24-year-old, but could not stop him opening the scoring in the 41st minute with a well-placed header from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross. Morata's goal came barely a minute after Leicester had squandered their best chance to go ahead. Islam Slimani robbed Kante on the edge of the Foxes' penalty area and released Riyad Mahrez towards goal. The Algerian played the ball back to Slimani, but his shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Most of Slimani's first-half touches had provoked groans from the home crowd and it was no surprise that he was replaced at the break by Demarai Gray.

Andy King was also sent on for Marc Albrighton. But Chelsea doubled their lead through Kante. The midfielder hit a hopeful, low shot from 25 yards that caught out Kasper Schmeichel and nestled in the corner of the net.

It looked as though Chelsea were cruising, but there was a lifeline for Leicester just after the hour. Under pressure from Gray, Azpilicueta tried to poke the ball back to Courtois, but Vardy nipped in and the Belgian tripped the England international.

Lee Mason had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Vardy fired the ball into the net to enliven what had been a relatively subdued home crowd.

Hazard made his entrance with 12 minutes to go and Chelsea managed to hold on to their one-goal advantage to underline the fact Conte's team is in good health.

Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk

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