Drogba injury mars Chelsea win

London: Chelsea beat 10-man Norwich 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday but the victory came at a cost as Didier Drogba was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious injury.

The Ivory Coast forward fell heavily following an aerial collision with Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy midway through the second half and needed lengthy treatment before he was taken for further examination.

A rare goal from Jose Bosingwa had given Andre Villas-Boas` side the early lead but Norwich recovered to equalise through captain Grant Holt just after the hour mark following a defensive mix-up.

Frank Lampard`s penalty put Chelsea ahead once more after Ruddy had been sent off for conceding it and debutant Juan Mata scored the third in stoppage time.

Ruddy had made a fine save to push a Ramires long-ranger round a post as early as the second minute as Chelsea started strongly.

Leon Barnett blocked a Fernando Torres effort but Chelsea were not to be denied and Bosingwa broke the deadlock in the sixth minute with a drive from more than 20 yards out that gave Ruddy no chance as it flashed into the top corner.

Torres almost set up Drogba in front of goal but Norwich who came close to equalising as the game neared the half hour mark.

Wes Hoolahan found Chris Martin in space only for Hilario to pull off a near post block. Martin was first to the loose ball and, having initially tried to take it past the goalkeeper, set up Kyle Naughton for a drive that Hilario did well to tip over.

Norwich then made a change, with defender Zak Whitbread replaced by winger Anthony Pilkington after Holt`s header had been saved.

The half ended with a Drogba free-kick just clearing the bar and Florent Malouda forcing a save from Ruddy, but Norwich had improved following their nervous start and subsequent tactical reshuffle.

Chelsea started the second period with Pilkington deflecting John Terry`s header over and Branislav Ivanovic sending a free header wide from a Lampard corner.

Norwich`s equaliser arrived in the 63rd minute - and it was a free gift from the Chelsea defence.

Hilario and Ivanovic both went for Kyle Naughton`s cross from the right and succeeded only in allowing the ball to drop perfectly for the lurking Holt, who immediately hooked it towards the empty net.

The Norwich captain celebrated wildly with the away fans once it was confirmed that the sliding Terry had been unable to stop it crossing the line in the 63rd minute.

There was more bad news almost straight away when Drogba was hurt in an aerial collision with Ruddy, which was compounded by the heavy fall that followed.

The forward stayed down and was eventually stretchered off, seemingly unconscious, with an oxygen mask on his face.

He was replaced by Nicolas Anelka, with Mata, the £23 million new signing from Valencia, handed a debut at this point.

The game finally shifted Chelsea`s way after Terry made an excellent last-ditch tackle to block from Norwich substitute Steve Morison just as he was in the process of shooting.

The next opportunity was Chelsea`s and when Ruddy brought Ramires down in the box to concede a penalty the goalkeeper was also shown a red card to become the second Norwich player in as many Premier League matches to be sent off.

Lampard despatched the penalty past substitute goalkeeper Declan Rudd and, after 11 minutes of added time, the points were Chelsea`s when Mata took advantage of a loose ball in the Norwich box and slotted in the third.

Bureau Report

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