It was a tumultuous day off the field but business as usual on it for the club that is swiftly becoming one of the most talked-about teams in the soccer world — for all the wrong reasons. (More Football News)
Early goals from Trevor Chalobah and Mason Mount set Chelsea on its way to a 3-1 victory at bottom club Norwich in the Premier League on Thursday, just hours after unprecedented British government sanctions against Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Those included restrictions that prohibits the team from selling new tickets or merchandise, or signing new players.
It meant Chelsea required a special licence to even be allowed to play, but the tough sanctions — which also halted Abramovich's planned sale of the club — didn't prevent the away fans from chanting the oligarch's name from the first whistle.
Chelsea's players showed no sign of being affected by the turmoil as Chalobah headed in Mount's corner in the third minute and Mount then then got on the scoresheet himself 11 minutes later as he curled in a pass from Kai Havertz.
Chelsea appeared to be cruising to comfortable victory but Norwich managed to reduce the deficit with 21 minutes left as Pierre Lees-Melou's cross hit the arm of Chalobah and, after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot.
Teemu Pukki stepped up and sent Edouard Mendy the wrong way to set up a nervy finale for Chelsea in Norfolk.
But Chelsea wrapped up the points in injury time when substitute N'Golo Kante dribbled into the area and squared it for Havertz to sidefoot home.
“Of course, there was a lot of distraction, another level of distraction with the sanctions and we could feel it," Tuchel said.
"The players talked about it, they are aware of it and we accepted it, but the rhythm, excitement and love for the game helped us. ... Full credit, I think the team shows very good character and we can be proud that they produce performances like this under the circumstances. It tells us we are right to trust them, that the attitude is right, the culture at the club is right and we keep on going.”
Chelsea remained third, 13 points behind Premier League leader Manchester City, but increased its advantage over fifth-place Manchester United to nine points.
FIGHT FOR EUROPE
Wolverhampton kept up its bid for a European spot with a comfortable 4-0 victory over relegation-threatened Watford.
Wolves jumped into a 3-0 lead after just 21 minutes thanks to an early strike from Raul Jimenez, an own goal by Cucho Hernandez and a Daniel Podence effort. Ruben Neves chipped in the fourth in the 85th to round off a commanding display.
Wolves remained eight, two points behind Tottenham and West Ham.
Aston Villa is seven points behind after routing Leeds 3-0 with goals from Philippe Coutinho, Matty Cash and Calum Chambers.
It was Leeds' seventh defeat in its last eight matches and left it two points above the relegation zone.
Newcastle boosted its bid to escape relegation by winning 2-1 at Southampton. Eddie Howe's side has now won six in seven games to move 10 points clear of the relegation zone in the first season under Saudi ownership.