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Hakim Ziyech on target to keep Chelsea ahead of the chasing pack

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Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates with teammates Romelu Lukaku and Mason Mount after scoring their side's second goal. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates with teammates Romelu Lukaku and Mason Mount after scoring their side's second goal. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea celebrates with teammates Romelu Lukaku and Mason Mount after scoring their side's second goal. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech stepped off the substitutes’ bench to earn Premier League leaders Chelsea a hard-fought victory in the strangest of circumstances at Vicarage Road.

The game was held up for 30 minutes after a male supporter suffered a cardiac arrest and needed CPR before being taken to hospital.

Thankfully, the fan was stabilised and play resumed with Chelsea producing a disjointed performance on a night when Saul Niguez was again substituted at half-time and Trevoh Chalobah suffered an injury.

Mason Mount had given Chelsea the lead against the run of play before Emmanuel Dennis equalised for the hosts, who will see this as an opportunity missed.

It was Mount who turned provider for Ziyech and Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel will no doubt be delighted to take all three points, but worried about his team’s injury problems.
It was more than half-an-hour after the stoppage that the game resumed in the 12th minute of the match with Danny Rose replacing Masina.

Chelsea had made a poor start to the game – for which Tuchel made six changes – before the stoppage, with Trevoh Chalobah needing to make a good block from Joao Pedro and Edouard Mendy forced to make a diving save to keep out the Watford forward’s header.

Saul started his first Premier League game since his nightmare Chelsea debut against Aston Villa, in which he was substituted at half-time, and suffered a similarly bad opening 45 minutes at Vicarage Road. Chelsea were sloppy in possession and looked vulnerable at the back, and yet the Blues were inches from taking a 19th-minute lead when Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s header fell to the feet of Mount and his shot smacked the post.

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Mount made no mistake just over 10 minutes later, however, when he finished a great move that involved Anonio Rudiger and Alonso. It was Kai Havertz who squared the ball for Mount to beat Daniel Bachmann.

Mendy had to make his second good save of the evening to prevent Rose from equalising with a well-struck volley, but Watford deservedly drew level on the stroke of half-time after seizing on an error from Loftus-Cheek. Moussa Sissoko robbed the Chelsea midfielder of the ball and passed to Dennis, who beat Mendy with a shot that took a slight deflection off Rudiger.

Unsurprisingly, Tuchel made a change at the break by sending on Silva, as Saul was o hauled off and Chalobah moved into midfield.

But Chalobah was later forced off with an injury that meant Tuchel had to send on Ziyech and Chelsea’s midfield became even more makeshift.

But the introduction of Ziyech proved to be decisive, as the Moroccan netted what proved to be Chelsea’s winner in the 73rd minute. Rudiger’s pass was headed on by Alonso and Mount produced a perfect cross for Ziyech to find the net. Ziyech could have made it a comfortable final eight minutes for the visitors, but Bachmann managed to save his header and Mendy stopped a late Juraj Kuka free-kick.


Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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