NORWICH, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Chelsea put their off-pitch worries to one side as they scored twice in the opening 14 minutes on the way to a 3-1 win over a plucky Norwich City side to consolidate third place in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Thursday (March 10).
Early goals from Trevoh Chalobah and Mason Mount put Chelsea in the driving seat and, although Norwich pulled one back with a penalty after 69 minutes, Kai Havertz wrapped up the points with a precise finish just before the final whistle.
The players at Chelsea, whose Russian owner Roman Abramovich has been placed under sanctions by the British government, did not appear to let the controversy affect them in the first half as they swept aside Norwich who look headed for relegation.
Chelsea, whose fans sang Abramovich's name throughout the match, took the lead after three minutes when Chalobah headed a corner past Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul to stun the home fans who had barely taken their seats.
The visitors soon doubled their advantage when Mount fired home after a mazy run by Havertz before the German forward got on the scoresheet himself near the end of one of the most dramatic days in the club's 117-year history.
"The noise is there and of course it (the sanctions) is another level of distraction but still the (team) meeting was the same and the schedule going to the match was the same," said Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel.
"The level of impact it has - the news of today is big - in time we don't know how big. We cannot influence it.
"That's why we said in the end, 'Come on, let's focus and let's try to enjoy'. We love the game, we love the sport and we love the competition. Let's go for it," he added.
Norwich had pulled a goal back with Teemu Pukki's penalty after Chalobah handled from a cross by Pierre Lees-Melou but it was not enough.
The spot-kick rallied the home side and Norwich did put Chelsea under pressure but they could not find an equaliser and their comeback ended when the impressive Havertz scored.
"Everybody can be very sure that we focus on us, to keep the attitude and the mentality right on the training ground and within the team," added Tuchel.
"So far we can trust each other and this will not change. As long as we have enough shirts and a bus to drive to the games we will be there and will compete hard."
Chelsea have 56 points from 27 games and moved eight points clear of Arsenal, who are fourth but have two games in hand.
Norwich stayed bottom on 17 points, five from the safety zone.