BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea cruised to third place in the Premier League with a fifth successive three-pointer as goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic saw off bottom-of-the table Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road tonight.
The home side’s goal came care of a VAR penalty with 10 minutes left – Gerard Deulofeu was adjudged to have been found by Jorginho and he successfully took the spot kick.
With the dominance of the away side in evidence throughout, had this been a boxing match the referee would gave been right to stop the bout to spare their opponents any more punishment.
It should have been six or seven goals for the west Londoners.
Chelsea took control from the whistle, and it was no surprise to see them take the lead.
Tammy Abraham showed a blistering pair of heels on five minutes to cut through the Watford rearguard. He latched onto the perfect defence-splitter ball by Jorginho, to lift the ball over the advancing Ben Foster and to nestle it into the back of the home side’s net.
The tall striker should have made it number two on 18 minutes when a Mason Mount shot was blocked, it fell to Abraham who tried to place the ball beyond Foster’s reach. However the stopper lunged to his left and parried the goal-bound effort away.
Foster then produced a magnificent, acrobatic save to tip a Christian Pulisic header away for a corner as the Blues looked to rip the Hornets wings off.
But as the half progressed, the Blues returned to a variation of Sarriball, keeping possession for the sake of it and not making any progress towards the opposition’s goal.
This gave Watford a glimmer of hope and on 38 minutes Gerard Deulofeu produced a low, left-footer that inched wide of Kepa’s goal.
But three minutes before the break a combination of fingertip save by Foster and his crossbar denied Mount a wonder goal with a 25-yard curler.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
The home side went all out for an equaliser from the first whistle of the restart. Kurt Zouma made a last-ditch block to thwart Andre Gray.
A fine breakaway saw Willian race into the Watford penalty area. He passed left to Mount, who took one touch before letting fly with a powerful left- footer which Foster once again parried away from goal.
Inevitably class won out , and on 55 minutes the west Londoners, doubled their lead. Started by Willian again,who ran straight into the heart of the home side’s defence, the Brazil wide man tucked the ball, to the right where Abraham has the simplest of chances of cutting over a low byline ball where in-running Pulisic slotted hime from close range.
On 75 minutes VAR reared it’s head when it checked a Jorginho byline challenge on Deulofeu. It decided in the home side’s favour and the Spain wide-man tucked home the spot kick with consummate ease, sending Kepa the wrong way.
Head coach Frank Lampard opted to replace Pulisic for Callum Hudson-Odoi with seven minutes left on the clock.
He was quickly followed by Michy Batshuayi, who replaced Abraham.
with five minutes of added time, the home side pushed forward in the hope of nicking a point, while Lampard tried to run down the clock by replacing Willian with Reece James.
with the last kick of the game Kepa made an spectacular save, diving to his left to tip the ball away.
Team: Chelsea, Kepa, Jorginho, Abraham, Willian, Zouma, Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic, Azpilicueta, Tomori, Emerson
Subs: Caballero, Alonso, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, James, Gilmour
Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Dawson, Deulofeu, Marina, Chalobah, Doucoure, Gray, Kabasele, Pereyra
Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Hughes, Femenia, Success, Holebas, Foulquier,
Referee: Anthony Taylor