Football: Chelsea bounce back to win 2-1 at Cardiff to boost top-four Premier League hopes

Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek celebrating with teammates after scoring their second goal against Cardiff in their English Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales on March 31, 2019.
Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek celebrating with teammates after scoring their second goal against Cardiff in their English Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales on March 31, 2019. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

LONDON (DPA, THE GUARDIAN) - Chelsea came from behind to win 2-1 at Cardiff City on Sunday (March 31) and boost their hopes of finishing in the top four of the English Premier League.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed the winner in the 90th minute to put sixth-placed Chelsea (60 points) within one point of third-placed Tottenham and fourth-placed Manchester United. They are behind London rivals Arsenal, who play Newcastle on Monday night, on goal difference.

Victor Camarasa put Cardiff in front but Cezar Azpilcueta equalised, despite being offside, before Loftus-Cheek won it to leave Cardiff still third-bottom, five points from safety.

The Blues rode their luck as with less than 10 minutes remaining, Cardiff were leading 1-0 and the mood in the away end was mutinous.

"We want Sarri out" reverberated loud and clear time and again, so much so that it was tempting to wonder whether Chelsea's manager Maurizio Sarri was fighting to hold on to his job.

By the time the final whistle blew, the Chelsea fans were celebrating a victory that kept alive their top-four hopes and left Cardiff crestfallen.

The killer goal was Azpilicueta's equaliser, in the 84th minute, and it should never have been allowed to stand. The Chelsea captain was a yard offside as he nodded home Marcos Alonso's flick-on.

 

Neil Warnock was furious, which is often the case although on this occasion it was impossible not to feel sympathy for the Cardiff manager.

Azpilicueta's goal will not be allowed to stand next season, when VAR is introduced in the Premier League.

Liverpool (76 points) will go back to the top of the table above title holders Manchester City (77) if they beat Tottenham in the day's late match.