#Chelsea 1 Everton 0 (Half-time 0-0)
As the #Premier League season begins to enter its final stages, Chelsea seem to have something of a stranglehold on the top spot it seems, as they maintained their seven-point advantage over nearest challengers Manchester City last night. It was a close shave though in a fractious encounter at Stamford Bridge, as they had to wait until after Everton had been reduced to ten men before Willian netted a late winner. Even that required the aid of a deflection in a crowded penalty area.
Everton's game plan as set out by manager Roberto Martinez, seemed to be mainly to frustrate the home side and keep solidity at the back. The Blues were the dominant side throughout, without ever suggesting that they would cut loose during the match. Indeed, their best player on the night was Nemanja Matic in the midfield enforcer role.
The home side did however have their chances on the night before the late drama, with Everton keeper Tim Howard back to the terrific form he had displayed at last year's World Cup for the United States. He provided a solid barrier when faced with efforts from Loic Remy, Matic and Willian.
After seemingly drawing the sting out of the Chelsea attack, Petr Cech then denied the Toffees the lead with an exceptional point-blank save with his feet, as Romelu Lukaku looked certain to score in the second-half.
Gareth Barry was sent off for two yellow cards with just two minutes remaining, to swing the game firmly in the league leaders' favour, before the 89th minute winner from the Brazilian, Willian. His shot from the edge of the box being deflected past the unlucky Howard and into the net.
Martinez was clearly unhappy afterwards with the sending off of Barry, which was probably the catalyst for their late submission to the home side's pressure. He felt that the Chelsea players were attempting to sway the referee's decision. Branislav Ivanovic became involved in the melee after the Barry incident, seeming to grab an Everton player around the throat as he attempted to 'sort things out'. He was not penalised for his actions at the time, but the officials may want to review the replays later, before deciding if any retrospective action is deemed appropriate. When the subject of Chelsea's discipline was aired during a BBC interview with Mourinho afterwards, the Blues' manager abruptly ended the interview, clearly not wishing to discuss the hot topic any further.
With just thirteen league matches remaining, Chelsea would surely seem as though the title is theirs to lose now. Mourinho's men seem to be winning 'ugly' when they need to, utilising whatever approach is necessary to earn their points. Although the Champions League may provide a diversion to them, they should have the resources to cope, especially when star striker Diego Costa returns from suspension to bolster their forward line. #Football