Everton 0 Chelsea 3: Pedro takes charge with sensational strike to keep leaders on track for the title

Chris Bascombe
Pedro enlivens a drab match with a sensational strike to put league leaders Chelsea 1-0 up and on the road to a 3-0 victory over Everton - REUTERS

Chelsea can start mapping the route for the title parade and considering the appropriate party venues. They are almost there now.

Second half goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill and Willian edged Antonio Conte ever closer to the Premier League title, but it was the psychological impact of a blistering final 24 minutes at Goodison Park that will surely make the run-in a formality.

This was the defining game of the last few weeks of this campaign. Chelsea knew it. Tottenham knew it. The exuberant celebrations at full-time, Conte leaping onto the back of Thibaut Courtois, betrayed the emotions of the manager. He knows it is now a matter of when, not if.

If there was going to be a slip, Goodison Park was going to be the venue. Only Ronald Koeman’s side realistically stood between Conte's men and the title jitters.  Lose, or even draw, and what was once the distant patter of those harrying Spurs players would become a thumping drum beat.

Chelsea did what they have done all season – a combination  of ruthless efficiency to repel the opponent prior to the sprinkling of stardust as and when necessary in attack.

Pedro's goal was a gem Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Their first from Pedro was a gem, a turn and strike from 20 yards to shift the momentum irreversibly in the leaders’ favour on 66 minutes. The second from Cahill was untidy, and Willian’s late third completed the formalities, but it was the ability to find the extra yard and locate the additional gear when it mattered that impressed.

True, Chelsea were full strength, Everton stricken – Morgan Schneiderlin the latest absentee with a groin strain – so this was more gentile a welcome than it might have been.

Nevertheless, this has always been one of those stadiums that doubles up as a barometer of championship pedigree. This was only the second home defeat of the season for the host.

Lukaku slips when trying to knock in a rebound from three yards Credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Koeman also had a plan. Or more precisely, he was happy to steal someone else’s. Everton adopted the Jose Mourinho blueprint that proved so successful when Chelsea were beaten at Old Trafford recently, the Dutchman deploying Idrissa Gueye in the Ander Herrera role, man-marking Eden Hazard.

The Senegal midfielder was diligent rather than flawless as the shadow, Hazard able to rid himself on enough occasions to maintain his usual menace.

Further upfield, Koeman ordered three strikers to scurry Chelsea’s three centre-backs into uncomfortable areas.

Hazard misses after a mistake from Stekelenburg Credit: PETER POWELL/EPA

There was more speed than wit about the strategy – especially in the case of Enner Valencia – but Dominic Calvert-Lewin almost justified his surprise inclusion within two minutes, a scruffy shot rebounding off the post. Cahill blocked Romelu Lukaku’s follow-up.

Then Chelsea did what they do, periodically demonstrating their attacking class through Hazard and Diego Costa.

Costa turned Ashley Williams on 11 minutes and it seemed the first goal would follow as the striker sent Hazard clear against Maarten Stekelenburg. Hazard dribbled past the Dutch keeper but the angle was too narrow.

Costa then seemed confused when volleying over from six yards, the ball bouncing off his head as the stadium waited for a linesman’s flag.  

Willian scores the third Credit:  Reuters/Phil Noble 

A pedestrian pace continued to be punctured by occasional brilliance, especially when Hazard tricked Everton with a cunning corner on 52 minutes.

As the Everton defenders waited for the in-swinger, Hazard played low to the near post for Matic to lay the ball to Moses. It was deflected an inch wide.

But the game's key moment came soon after, Pedro turning and firing left-footed into the top corner.

Cahill’s scruffy second on 79 minutes after a goalkeeper error ensured a comfortable finale before Willian provided the polish four minutes from the end.

“Are you watching Tottenham,” sang the away fans.

You could hear the sighs in North London.

4:01PM

Antonio Conte

Is celebrating with genuine, significant, exuberant fervour. 

Credit: Action Images/Carl Recine

 

3:56PM

Full time

Chelsea move seven points ahead of Tottenham at the top with four to play. 

3:56PM

Time on ball (at full time)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 3:56PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 3:55PM

90+2 min

Heavy touch from Barkley bunts the ball too far ahead of him and he slides in to retrieve too desperately. Cahill leaps out of the way of his studs to save him a booking. 

3:54PM

90 min

We'll have three added minutes in front of sparsely populated stands after the departure of thousands of Evertonians. 

3:53PM

89 min

Gary Neville makes Pedro Sky's man of the match. A moment of stylish ingenuity transformed this rather attritional game into a cakewalk for the last 20 minutes for the champions elect. 

3:51PM

87 min

Everton have been cut apart. Marcos Alonso pings a pass in to Diego Costa from the left touchline. The centre-forward plays it round the corner for Fabregas's third-man run. He sprints to the byline and cuts back a pass for Willian to side-foot crisply home. 

Credit: Phil Noble/REUTERS

 

3:50PM

GOAL!

It's cruise control for Chelsea now! Willian makes it 0-3.

Everton 0 - 3 Chelsea (Willian, 86 min) 3:48PM

85 min

Hazard departs the scene for FA Cup semi-final golden boy Willian. 

3:47PM

84 min

Chelsea have West Brom away, Middlesbrough, Watford and Sunderland at home to come. It's done, isn't it? Should be a procession. 

3:45PM

82 min

Double Chelsea substitution - David Luiz off for Ake and Fabregas on to replace Pedro. 

3:44PM

80 min

Chelsea free-kick on the left after a clumsy Gueye foul, curled in by Hazard through a pathetic wall. Gueye hangs out a leg with less conviction than a Tiller girl. The ball goes through, catching Stekelenburg by surprise and the keeper weak-wristedly parries it straight to Cahill to tap it in. 

Credit: Magi Haroun/REX/Shutterstock

 

3:42PM

GOAL!

Everton up against it now - Gary Cahill makes it 0-2 to Chelsea.

Everton 0 - 2 Chelsea (Gary Cahill, 79 min) 3:41PM

The referee's busy at Goodison Park

Idrissa Gueye of Everton becomes the seventh player to go into the book of referee Jonathan Moss.

3:40PM

77 min

Lukaku takes the free-kick, and curl his left-foot shot tamely over. 

3:40PM

76 min

Azpilicuet, who has already been booked, sarcastically strides 10 feet to show the wall is too deep, the line painted by Jon Moss too deep, that is. That's dissent but he is not awarded the second yellow card it merits. 

3:39PM

Time on ball (61 - 76 min)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 3:38PM

75 min

David Luiz is patched up and comes back on. He has a free-kick to defend from 20 yards after Hazard trips Barkley. 

3:36PM

73 min 

David Luix's thigh/groin gives way at last after an our of limping and grimacing and he lies in a heap. On comes the magic sponge while Nathan Ake hurries his preparations to enter the fray.

3:35PM

72 min

Valencia and Calvert-Lewin go off for Mirallas and Kone. 

3:35PM

71 min 

David Luiz, in 30 seconds, clips a wonderful 40-yard pass up to Diego Costa, then slides on his backside to thwart Lukaku ... just and thanks to a telescopic leg. 

3:33PM

70 min

Foul on Lukaku, a yank on his shoulder, gives Everton a free-kick on halfway as Mirallas and AN Other get stripped to come on. 

3:31PM

69 min

Everton are going to find it tough now as Chelsea retreat into a very compact 5-4-1 when they haven't got the ball. 

3:29PM

67 min

What a goal! Superb from Pedro who has done very little today. He takes the ball with his back to goal 30 yards out, spins, sends Jagielka off to buy a pint of milk, drags it on to his left and arrows an unstoppable 22-yard shot into the top left corner. 

Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

 

3:29PM

GOAL!

0-1. Pedro has broken the deadlock for Chelsea.

Everton 0 - 1 Chelsea (Pedro, 66 min) 3:28PM

64 min

N'Golo Kante, the payer of the year, is not on his game today. He has overhit three passes out to the wingbacks so far. 

3:26PM

63 min

Diego Costa is perplexed by the referee's blindness to a trip 25 yards out. Antonio Conte also pulls a face that could curdle milk. 

3:24PM

60 min

Barkley wins a tackle on halfway, sliding in, then springs up and drives towards the area, tacking right to open up a space for Lukaku to run at David Luiz from the 18-yard line but the intended throughball is a weak flick and doesn't get through. 

3:23PM

Time on ball (45 - 60 min)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 3:21PM

58 min

Valencia latches  on to a Jagielka pass and storms up the inside-right channel. Holgate is free on the outside and screams for the pass but Valencia decides to shoot instead and settles for a corner when his shot is deflected off Cahill's inner thigh. 

3:20PM

56 min

No free-kick for that or a booking but one for Diego Costa when he tries to intercept a daft, bling backpass from Holgate. Stekelenburg races out and gets there half a second before Diego Costa who raise his foot in the slide tackle. Stekelenburg squeezes his clearance past Diego Costa then hits his sole with the top of hi foot in the followthrough.  

3:18PM

54 min

David Luiz is clearly hobbled. But on he plays with his limp. Zouma is on the bench but not warming up. Davies, for the second time, leaves something on Diego Costa when the two come together. 

3:16PM

52 min

Clever Chelsea corner routine brings the match back to life with a satisfying jolt. Pedro took it to the near post. Matic had made a cute run in front of the post and turned to lay it back to Moses who was steaming into the box to shoot first time. He clipped it into a thicket of shins and out for another corner. 

3:13PM

50 min

Marcos Alonso oberhits a left-wing cross on the run and shovels the ball out of play. This is rank. 

3:11PM

48 min

Tom Davies injects some urgency by closing the strollers down with snappy, teenage exasperation, for which he's resoundingly applauded by Evertonians.

3:10PM

47 min

Gary Neville sees a worrying tendency of Chelsea to let games drift early on. He thinks they should demonstrate more urgency. Pedro earns a free-kick on halfway that Chelsea's back three decide to use as an opportunity to light their Romeo y Julietas and stroke the ball about aimlessly. 

3:09PM

46 min

'It's as you were' - the irresistible phrase seemingly for no half-time changes which, lets be frank, is the most frequent scenario. 

2:54PM

Half time

Off they troop for a breather and, no doubt, a rollicking. 

2:53PM

45+2 min

Williams' intervention in hi box comes at the expense of a corner. In it bends from the left and Matic glances a header wide. Too fine a touch, needed to be more forehead, less brow. 

2:53PM

Time on ball (first half)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 2:53PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 2:51PM

45 min

We're going to have two more minutes this half. Lively atmosphere on the touchline and in the stands but it's been a bit s--- on a stick, as Jorge Valdano had it, so far. 

2:50PM

44 min

Gary Neville says Lukaku needs to stay more central. All this running from flank to flank is depriving Everton of a man to hit in the middle when the full-backs get wide. 

2:49PM

41 min

Valencia beats Cahill on the right, reaches the byline and spears a cross towards the spot but Lukaku's momentum took him half  a yard in front of the ball.  He attempted a one-foot scorpion to try to connect but ended up doing a Larry Grayson 'shut-that-door' impression instead. 

2:46PM

39 min

Calvert-Lewin needs a moment after a clash of heads. From the resulting throw-in Azpilicueta axes Lukaku with a scything foul when the centre-forward spins him 25 yards out to the left of the D.  Barkley takes the free-kick but does not get it over the wall. 

2:45PM

The shot count is similar

Everton and Chelsea are evenly matched in attack so far - the vistors have fired in seven shots to the hosts' six.

Everton vs Chelsea shots on goal 2:43PM

37 min

Matic clips Davies' ankle, much as Davies did to Diego Costa. when Davies, the boy on the burning deck, dashed ahead of the Chelsea midfielder to prevent a quicksilver break exploiting an open home defence.  Cahill had shown some professionalism of his own a minute or two earlier with a deliberate handball to prevent an Everton breakaway. 

Davies slides into Diego Costa Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

2:39PM

34 min

David Luiz seems to have a problem with one of his thighs. Can't be ideal when you have Lukaku to deal with. 

2:38PM

33 min

Gueye manhandles Hazard, arms around his waist to impede his progress. The egg-chasing beaut. 

2:36PM

31 min

Lukaku covers so much ground across the pitch, now winning a ball way out on the right until he is outnumbered. Everton come back with another aimless ball over the top. 

2:35PM

Neither side able to dictate the game so far

Everton having more of the ball so far, with 236 touches to 206 from Chelsea.

Everton vs Chelsea 2:35PM

Time on ball (15 - 30 min)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 2:34PM

29 min

Everton fancy their chances behind Moses and are trying to overload their left wing with Calvert-Lewin, Baines and Lukaku breaking out to that flank. Jagielka hits a 50-yard diagonal over Moses's head, designed to spark that strategy but it's a foot too high and it parts the leaping Baines' mop top.  

2:32PM

27 min

Calvert-Lewin, with both Baines and Lukaku better placed, takes on a shot himself and pulls a daisycutter harmlessly wide from 25 yards. 

2:30PM

25 min

Diego Costa's turn to get on the end of a ball that drops over his shoulder. He wriggles free of Jagielka who ducks out of the header that Diego Costa wins, spins and blasts a volley over the bar. Antonio Conte buries his face into his palms and gives us the Edvard Munch. 

Credit: Greenwood/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

 

2:28PM

23 min

Lukaku bullies David Luiz off with a bump of his hip to work a shooting opportunity from 22 yards. The ball was knocked over the top, he gathered it in his stride with a neat stun, brushed off David Luiz then speared a shot about a yard wide. 

Credit: Mercury Press/REX/Shutterstock

 

2:27PM

21 min

Gueye is sticking to his Hazard man-marking job more adhesively than he is actually sticking to Hazard. He is dogged in pursuit but Hazard is too slippery for him and beats him to a chipped diagonal pass. The flight of the ball comes to Gueye's rescue s Hazard cannot hook it towards the centre of the box. 

2:24PM

19 min

David Luiz flaps when Everton launch a long ball from left-back towards the Chelsea box. He sees Lukaku advncing on him so he tries to volley it clear and ends up shanking it behind. Barkley's corner though, is not up to much. 

2:23PM

Time on ball (0 - 15 min)

Possession: Everton vs Chelsea 2:23PM

17 min

Willian is warming up as Antonio Conte bellows on the touchline with both arms pointing above his head. Air traffic control. 

2:22PM

15 min

Chelsea are breaking with slick precision and Diego Costa bears down on the box when found by a lovely pass from Marcos Alonso. Jagielka slips at the crucial moment when on the half-turn to shepherd him away and it takes a very forceful sliding tackle from Davies to save the day. He took the ball and a portion of the Chelsea striker's ankle with it. 

2:20PM

14 min

Chelsea look more organised shape-wise and have obviously devoted loads of preparation time to Lukaku and how to deal with him. he's seeing a lot of ball but they're forcing him towards the corners. 

2:18PM

11 min

Terrific pass from Diego Costa after a 30-yard burst down the inside-right channel. Hazard drifts offside then checks back to go again and receive the pass to the  right of the box. Stekelenburg tries to race out to beat him to it but hasn't the speed. Hazard's a little too wide to wrap his foot around it to get it inside the post and can only flay a shot into the side-netting. 

Credit: PETER POWELL/EPA

 

2:14PM

9 min

Valencia gets round Azpilicueta on the Everton left but his deep outswinging left-foot cross is headed clear by Cahill. 

2:13PM

7 min

Calvert-Lewin begins the break forward with a dart up the left and plays it to Barkley who steers a pinpoint pass for Lukaku's centre-to-left run. Azpilicueta stalks him all the way and draws the foul when Lukaku tries to wrestle him free from the pursuit. 

2:12PM

6 min

Everton are wide open at the back so far, letting them in behind Holgate to earn a corner which they take short, shift across field and test Everton with an outswinging cross, a test they comfortably pass. 

2:11PM

Chelsea respond

The visitors have their first shot of the game, in reply to three so far from Everton.

Everton vs Chelsea shots on goal 2:10PM

4 min

Frantic so far and Chelsea carve a swath through the middle of Everton's defence and Cahill takes a punt and shoots from 25 yards. It dips and swerves causing Stekelenburg to fumble it and leaves Williams to hack it away. 

2:08PM

2 min

Excellent from Calvert-Lewin who makes a clever run between Azpilicueta and Moses. Jagielka slides a pass to him and he takes it on the outside of  Azpilicueta and drives a low shot against the post with Courtois late to close the gap. The rebound take sit towards the centre of goal and Lukaku who slips before he can wrap his foot around it properly from  three yards. 

Credit:  Reuters / Phil Noble

 

2:06PM

1 min

Everton kick off and chip it long diagonally down the left for Calvert-Lewin but Azpilicueta and David Luiz deal with it aerially. Gueye is man-marking Hazard. 

2:02PM

Here come the teams

 Where's Fancy Smith? 

1:43PM

Much rancour between the two clubs

Over John Stones in the summer of 2015 and Romelu Lukaku over the next few weeks. Another transfer between the two, 72 years ago, involved rancour of a domestic bent.

Tommy Lawton, the England centre-forward, had scored 70 goals in 95 appearances for Everton in the two seasons before the war, but moved to Chelsea in 1945, much to the dismay of the Gwladys Street End.

After many years of Everton taking stick for letting him go, Lawton revealed that he had forced the move to escape an unhappy marriage to a Liverpool lass.

“The marriage just wasn’t working out. In fact it was purgatory,” he said. “Home was hell, something had to be done. On reflection I should have stayed and transferred the wife.” 

The matchday ritual Credit: Action Images/Carl Recine

 

1:35PM

Those teams in the trad format

Everton Stekelenburg; Holgate, Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Baines; Gana, Davies; Valencia, Barkley, Calvert-Lewin; Lukaku. 
Substitutes Robles, Kone, Mirallas, Barry, Lookman, Pennington, Kenny.

It's a grand old team to play for ... Credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Chelsea Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Costa. 
Substitutes Begovic, Fabregas, Zouma, Ake, Willian, Batshuayi, Chalobah.

Referee Jon Moss (W Yorkshire)

1:14PM

Omen

 

1:12PM

Chelsea subs

 

1:07PM

And the Everton line-up

 

1:06PM

Chelsea team

 

12:59PM

Match preview

What is it?

A wonderful Premier League match between two teams that love the colour blue. Yes, it's Everton vs Chelsea.

When is it?

It's today, Sunday, 30 April 2017.

What time is kick-off?

Football begins at exactly 14.05.

What TV channel is it on?

Sky Sports 1, HD and UHD. But never mind about any of that, you can follow the game live here with Rob Bagchi.

What is the team news?

Everton have Enner Valencia available after the striker was ineligible to face parent club West Ham last week.

None of the side's injured players are ready to return, however.

Midfielder Muhamed Besic is building up his fitness after a year out with a serious knee injury but James McCarthy (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori, Yannick Bolasie (both knee), Seamus Coleman (broken leg) and Aaron Lennon all remain sidelined.

Provisional Everton squad: Robles, Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Barkley, Davies, Mirallas, Lukaku, Stekelenburg, Pennington, Kenny, Barry, Williams, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Kone, Valencia.

Everton team picker

Antonio Conte can pick from a full strength Chelsea squad for Sunday's game.

The Chelsea manager is expected to continue with his tried and tested regulars as his side edge ever close to the Premier League title.

That means Eden Hazard and Diego Costa should lead Chelsea's challenge at Goodison Park.

Provisional Chelsea squad: Courtois, Begovic, Fabregas, Zouma, Alonso, Kante, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Moses, Pedro, Costa, Matic, Willian, Batshuayi, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Luiz, Eduardo, Aina, Ake.

Chelsea team picker

What are they saying?

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed he was paying close attention to Everton striker Romelu Lukaku this week but with a view to stopping him scoring against Chelsea on Sunday rather than signing him in the summer.

Premier League leaders Chelsea have been repeatedly linked with the Belgian they sold to Everton for £28million as a possible replacement for Diego Costa, who has admirers in China.

Lukaku is the league's top scorer, with 24 goals to Costa's 19, and will provide Everton's main threat as Chelsea seek to extend their four-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park.

"I think he is a really good player and is scoring a lot of goals in this season, not only this season, we must pay great attention," Conte told reporters on Friday.

"But it is the same, to find the right solution to stop them. We must find the right solution to stop Lukaku and all the other players."

Asked which striker he would prefer in his team, Conte said: "For me, my players are the best in the world. I don't change them with others."

Credit: ACTION IMAGES

A win for Chelsea would confirm qualification for next season's Champions League in a game being billed as their last serious hurdle to winning the title, with only Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion, Watford and Sunderland to overcome.

But Conte was keen not to look beyond Sunday, highlighting the need for his team to keep a clean sheet after conceding in their past 11 games, including Tuesday's 4-2 win over Southampton.

"It's important to improve, to work on the situations we're conceding the goals. We are working on it. Everton are a really good team, a strong team, with great players in their squad and a physical team," said Conte.

"When we started this season, our first target was to play in the Champions League next season. It's an important target for the club, for the fans, for the players. But, for sure, now we stay in a position to try also to win the league."

Conte got an early sight of silverware this week when he sat beside Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to watch the club's under-18 team beat Manchester City 6-2 on aggregate, going into the dressing room afterwards to congratulate the youngsters.

"The work in the academy is very important to Chelsea," he said. "In this team I saw four, five players with good prospects."

What are the odds?

Everton: 29/10 Chelsea: 11/10 Draw: 27/10

What's our prediction?

We'll hand over to Merseyside football authority Chris Bascombe:

Everton will be feeling the love from White Hart Lane as they seek the win over Chelsea that could shift the momentum to Spurs. For Chelsea, a quick scan through their remaining games makes this fixture – potentially – a title decider. Victory at Goodison would surely seal the Premier League for Antonio Conte. But could fate have a say? At least two ex-Chelsea managers lost their job after a loss at Everton. Nothing so dramatic awaits a Conte defeat here, but there is enough dark recent history here to worry the Londoners.

Predicted score: Everton 2 Chelsea 1

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