MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 20:59:26| >> :120:7331:7331:
May 5, 2019 at 2pm UK at Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 40,650
Chelsea
3-0
Watford
Loftus-Cheek (48'), Luiz (51'), Higuain (75')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Live Commentary: Chelsea 3-0 Watford - as it happened

Relive Chelsea's 3-0 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge as the Blues take a giant stride towards securing a top-four finish.
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Chelsea took themselves to the brink of Champions League qualification courtesy of a 3-0 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge this evening.

After weathering a Watford storm inside the first half, Chelsea came out flying for the second with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz both scoring in the opening five minutes.

Gonzalo Higuain then capped off the scoring to lift the Blues up to third and leave them just one result away from clinching a top-four spot.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates.


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Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge!

The focus for today is very much on a top-four race which nobody seems to want to win, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all in action and hoping to capitalise on Tottenham's latest slip-up yesterday. Chelsea are the team in control of fourth spot and could even climb up to third with a win today, but anything less than a victory could leave them relying on other results - it is all to play for!

Let's have a quick look at the team news before we get started...


CHELSEA STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard

SUBS: Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud, Cahill, Zappacosta, Caballero, Willian


WATFORD STARTING XI: Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Chalobah, Doucoure; Hughes, Pereyra; Deulofeu, Deeney

SUBS: Success, Cleverley, Masina, Gray, Janmaat, Kabasele, Gomes


KICKOFF:  Here we go! We are underway at Stamford Bridge!

Interesting to see Gary Cahill on the bench this afternoon after he admitted that he did not respect Sarri in quotes published earlier today. The long-serving defender may still be given a chance to stay goodbye to the home fans, though.

Watford win an early corner which is floated into the area, but Azpilicueta gets his head to the ball and Doucoure then hesitates enough to deny him the chance to get a shot away.

SHOT!  Deulofeu could be the danger man for Watford today and he comes close here, collecting the ball just outside the area, working space to shoot and then flashing a low strike narrowly past the post.

OFF THE POST!  Watford are knocking on the door in the early stages here! This time a corner is played short before being swung into the box, and Deeney climbs highest to loop a header towards the top corner. Kepa is at full stretch and goes for it with his wrong hand, but still manages to claw it against the post.

Inches away for Watford there!


CHELSEA SUB: This has been far from an ideal start for Chelsea so far and now they have lost Kante to what looks like a hamstring injury, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing him.

UPDATE: The bad news keeps on coming for Chelsea as Manchester United have now taken the lead against Huddersfield through Scott McTominay.

SAVE!  Almost a lovely goal from Chelsea as they play out through a high Watford press and go from back to front with a slick passing move. Hazard eventually collects it and drops it back to Jorginho, who tries to chip his finish over the keeper and into the far corner. It is an uncomfortable save for Foster, but he does keep it out.

Good defending from Mariappa as he comes across to make a last-ditch sliding challenge on Higuain, denying the Argentine a really good chance inside the box.

CHANCE!  Watford continue to look dangerous as Deeney flicks the ball on to Hughes, who eventually manages to smuggle it to Deulofeu. It is not particularly neat or tidy, but the ball does eventually fall for Deulofeu, who slices his shot well wide from the edge of the box.

The visitors have been really positive so far today, taking the game to Chelsea and asking plenty of questions of the hosts' defence. The Hornets have been the better team so far!

SHOT!  Another sight of goal for Watford as Doucoure lays the ball into the path of Holebas, who fires his effort comfortably over the crossbar when he should have hit the target.

Watford are pressing so high up the field at the moment that Chelsea are finding it difficult to even make it out of their own half right now. The visitors have very much been playing like the home team so far.

CHANCE!  Almost a chance for Chelsea out of nothing, though, as Jorginho floats the ball in to Hazard, who takes it down inside the box but then sees it taken off his toes by Foster.

Important piece of defending from Alonso to stop another Watford attack, doing just about enough on the cover to prevent Doucoure from having a clear sight of goal inside the box. These Watford attacks are relentless at the moment!

Important piece of defending from Alonso to stop another Watford attack, doing just about enough on the cover to prevent Doucoure from having a clear sight of goal inside the box. These Watford attacks are relentless at the moment!

UPDATE: The final day of the Championship is now over, and Norwich will be facing these two sides next year as the second-tier champions. Derby have also confirmed their place in the playoffs with victory over West Brom.

Chance for Chelsea to test the Watford defence from a set piece here as Hazard wins a free kick in a dangerous crossing position...

PENALTY APPEAL!  Chelsea want a penalty as Higuain swings a cross in from the left and Luiz - still up from that free kick - goes down under the challenge of Femenia. There was a tangle, but it would have been soft.

Chelsea have just started to settle into the game a bit more now, seeing more of the ball and stemming the flow of Watford chances too.

Will Watford be made to regret not making more of their time in the ascendancy? The Hornets have been the better team for much of this match and will feel that they should be ahead, but it remains goalless.

SHOT!  Pedro comes close to the breakthrough as he collects a pass from Hazard before trying to pick out the top corner with a left-footed curler. It is a decent effort, but floats a yard or so over the crossbar.

This could be Hazard's final home league game in a Chelsea shirt, and it is the Belgian who looks most likely to make something happen for the hosts so far.

Lovely football from Watford as Femenia, Hughes, Doucoure, Deulofeu and Pereyra are all involved in a slick passing move. Chelsea ultimately have enough players back in the box to prevent Kepa being tested, but that was good work from Watford.

SHOT!  Superb play from the hosts as Loftus-Cheek feeds a pass into the feet of Pedro, who exchanges a quick one-two with Higuain before firing a fine effort narrowly wide of the far post.

Another good passing move from Chelsea ends with Jorginho trying to chip the ball into the box for Higuain, but he puts just too much on it.

There will be one minute of added time at the end of this first half.

HALF TIME:  CHELSEA 0-0 WATFORD

A goalless first half comes to an end at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea are probably the happier of the two teams about that having been on the back foot for much of that opening 45 minutes.

Chelsea did begin to get back into the game during the final 15 minutes of the contest and will be feeling more confident about things than they were during the opening half-hour, but Watford are very much in this game.


Watford threatened on a few occasions during their time on top and may feel that they should be ahead in this match, having caused Chelsea all sorts of problems going forward.

Troy Deeney has come the closest for the visitors with a looping header which Kepa needed to claw against the post with a full-stretch save, denying Watford what would have been a deserved opener after their bright start.


Deulofeu and Holebas have also threatened for Watford, but they could not find the breakthrough and Chelsea settled after the half-hour mark, beginning to see more of the ball and create chances of their own.

Jorginho forced Foster into a save with an attempted lob and Pedro has come close on a couple of occasions too, while Hazard was thwarted by Foster inside the area just when the Belgian was about to pull the trigger.


KICKOFF:  Chelsea get us back underway at Stamford Bridge!

SAVE!  Hazard is so quick over the first yard or so that it is impossible to defend against at times. Watford look to have him surrounded here, but he skips away before forcing a save from Foster.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 1-0 WATFORD (RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK)

GOAL!  What a start to the second half for Chelsea as they take the lead within three minutes of the restart!

The resulting corner is played short between Pedro and Hazard before the latter swings a cross into the box which Loftus-Cheek nods into the bottom corner! Chelsea are heading up to third as things stand!


GOAL!  CHELSEA 2-0 WATFORD (DAVID LUIZ)

GOAL!  Oh my word, Chelsea have come flying out of the blocks in this second half and have two goals in as many minutes!

Again it stems from a set piece as Luiz escapes Mariappa from a corner, meeting the delivery with a firm header on the edge of the six-yard box to leave Foster with no chance.


Is there any way back for Watford now? They were so impressive for much of the first half, but now find themselves with a mountain to climb.

Chelsea could all-but wrap up a top-four spot today if they hold on to this win and Arsenal lose in the later kickoff. It would not be mathematically certain, but it would take an unlikely goal difference swing and results to go against them on the final day.

CLOSE!  Better from Watford again as they refuses to go down without a fight. Deeney picks out Deulofeu, who collects the ball, squares up Azpilicueta before beating him and then drills a low strike narrowly wide of the far post.

What a miss he will be for Chelsea if he leaves this summer...



CHANCE!  How has this one not gone in for Chelsea?! Brilliant again from Hazard as he cuts back before teeing up Pedro, who sees his low shot superbly saved by Foster. The ball bobbles out to Loftus-Cheek, but he bundles it narrowly wide of the far post.

That really was a good save from Foster, and one which just about keeps this match competitive. Watford have shown enough going forward to suggest that they can get back into this game.

CHANCE!  Right on cue Watford have another sight of goal as Doucoure rises highest inside the area, but he cannot get over the ball and nods it well over from a good position.

UPDATE: Huddersfield have not picked up so much as a Premier League point since February, but they are level against Manchester United now through Isaac Mbenza!

SAVE!  Foster is much busier in this second half and needs to turn the ball behind for another corner at his near post here.

Crucial challenge from Chalobah as he makes a last-ditch tackle to deny Higuain inside the box after more good work from Hazard.

WATFORD SUB: Change for the visitors here as Chalobah is replaced by Tom Cleverley.

Just over 20 minutes left for Chelsea to see this one out, and it is all about game management at this stage. Watford have the ability to punish any mistakes, so the priority has to be not to take any unnecessary risks at this stage.

Deulofeu skips past Alonso far too easily down the right before pulling the ball back to Hughes, who plays a low pass into the box which Azpilicueta clears. Deulofeu is the man who looks capable of making something happen.

Huddersfield are still level with United, incidentally, which means that as things stand Chelsea will be five points clear of both United and Arsenal.

GOAL!  CHELSEA 3-0 WATFORD (GONZALO HIGUAIN)

GOAL!  Well and truly game over now as Chelsea add a third through Higuain, who produces a lovely finish over the keeper.

Pedro picked out the striker's run with a clever through-ball, and Higuain just dinks his finish over the onrushing shot-stopper.


SHOT!  Deeney looks for a consolation as he fires and effort towards goal from 25 yards, but it flies a couple of yards off target.

OFF THE BAR!  Watford really should have at least one goal this afternoon, but they hit the woodwork again here. Holebas cuts inside from the right flank and gets into shooting space, but his eventual shot is always rising and clips the top of the bar on its way over.

CHELSEA SUB: Another change for Chelsea as Olivier Giroud replaces Higuain.

The fans chant Gary Cahill's name - they want to see him one last time at Stamford Bridge. Will Sarri give them what they want after those quotes that came out today, though?

Pedro is fortunate to get away without a booking here having gone flying into a challenge on Deeney right on the edge of the box.

WATFORD SUBS: Double change for Watford as Deeney and Deulofeu are replaced by Isaac Success and Andre Gray.

DISALLOWED GOAL!  Success and Gray immediately have the ball in the back of the net, but the celebrations are cut short in bizarre fashion! Pereyra's free kick is fizzed in and crashes against the inside of the post before bouncing back out to Success. It would be a simple - and legal - goal if he just nudges it over the line, but Gray is also there and the ball comes off him last, when he is in an offside position just in front of Success. It would have gone in with or without the touch, but as it touched him it is offside!

CHANCE!  Luiz whips a cross into the box from the left and Giroud tries to cushion his volley in, but it is on his weaker foot and he gets the finish all wrong. If that was on his left you'd back him to score there!

CHANCE!  Another huge chance for Giroud, but again it is on his right and he misses it! The striker is in all sorts of space in the middle and has a swing at the half-volley, but his effort bounces into the ground and over the bar. That was a glorious opportunity!

CHELSEA SUB: Here is Cahill's moment as he is given a standing ovation when replacing Luiz.

YELLOW CARD!  Doucoure picks up a late booking for a challenge on Hazard.

There will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

SAVE!  Hazard wants a goal in what could be his farewell home league match and darts in from the right before forcing Foster into a smart save at his near post.

SAVE!  Foster is called into action again as Giroud squeezes a shot on target after good skill, but it is fairly simple for the keeper.

FULL TIME:  CHELSEA 3-0 WATFORD

A big, big win for Chelsea, then, as they take a huge step towards securing a top-four spot and Champions League football next season - something which will now be guaranteed if Arsenal fail to beat Brighton later today.

It was difficult for them for much of the first half, but goals from Loftus-Cheek and Luiz at the start of the second set them on course for a win which Higuain capped off.


Right, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Chelsea move to the brink of Champions League qualification by beating Watford. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to check back in for reaction and the all-important Arsenal game, which kicks off at 4.30pm.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!


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