Juan Mata's goal earned Chelsea a 1-0 win over Norwich at Carrow Road
Last Updated: December 27, 2012 7:33am
Chelsea continued their improved form under Rafa Benitez with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Norwich at Carrow Road.
After scoring eight at the weekend against Aston Villa, Juan Mata's brilliant first half strike proved to be enough for Chelsea to boost their title chances.
Best of the game
- Man of the match: David Luiz - The Brazilian looks more at home in midfield and he dominated in the middle
- Goal of the match: Juan Mata's strike from the edge of the box was a great effort and was a worthy winning goal
- Save of the match: Mark Bunn was called into the action on a few occasions and he made a good save to deny Hazard late on
- Moment of the match: It has to be Mata's winner as it was the one moment of class in a cagey encounter
- Talking point: Can Chelsea make a late push for the title? Do Norwich need to buy in January to add strength in depth to their squad
Norwich struggled to create too many goalscoring opportunities with Sebastien Bassong's header over the top in stoppage time their best chance of the game.
In the early exchanges chances were few and far between with defences very much on top.
David Luiz, who was again playing in midfield, had a few sights of goal but he failed to trouble Mark Bunn in the Norwich goal with a couple of wayward efforts.
Chelsea created the best opening of the game on the half hour mark when Luiz slipped Mata in on goal, but the Spaniard could only hit his shot into the side-netting.
The visitors were beginning to get on top and four minutes later Luiz teeed up John Obi Mikel on the edge of the box only for the Nigerian to drill his powerful shot over the crossbar.
Chelsea broke the deadlock on 38 minutes as Mata netted his 13th goal of the season with a superb shot from the edge of box.
There looked very little on when Mata picked up a pass from Oscar 30 yards from goal, but with very little backlift he fired a fierce shot past Mark Bunn into the corner of the net.
Bunn had to be alert early in the second half to divert Oscar's deflected corner at his near post as Chelsea pushed for a second goal.
Mata tried to catch out Bunn on 55 minutes with a quickly taken free-kick from the edge of the box with the keeper still organising his wall, but he got back to save the curling effort.
Victor Moses really should have added a second goal on 68 minutes when he brought down Cesar Azpilicueta's cross inside the box on his chest, but he drilled his shot wide of the target.
Norwich pushed everything forward in the closing stages in a bid to find an equaliser, but the closest they came was deep into injury time when Bassong headed down into the ground and over the crossbar as Chelsea secured all three points.
Barclays Premier League
Wed 26th Dec
Everton2 - 1Wigan
Fulham1 - 1Southampton
Man Utd4 - 3Newcastle
Norwich0 - 1Chelsea
Sunderland1 - 0Man City
QPR1 - 2West Brom
Reading0 - 0Swansea
A Villa0 - 4Tottenham
Stoke City3 - 1Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|
Norwich v Chelsea
Juan Mata has told Rafa Benitez he is fit enough to keep playing despite reaching a landmark number of games at Norwich.
Norwich boss Chris Hughton felt his side were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Chelsea at Carrow Road.
Rafael Benitez refused to be drawn on the speculation surrounding the future of Frank Lampard after Chelsea won at Norwich on Boxing Day.