Defiant John Ruddy frustrates Chelsea but Norwich City pay a high price for a lapse in concentration
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
John Ruddy's Stamford Bridge display was the best response to recent criticism of Norwich City's number one.
The one-time Chelsea transfer target was finally beaten by Diego Costa, after earlier denying the big-money import with a superb stop using his right foot.
Ruddy also foiled Willian and Nemanja Matic - the pick of the bunch for Alex Neil.
'He made some very good saves. The one from Matic, in particular, springs to mind at 1-0,' said Neil. 'That was probably Chelsea's best clear-cut chance in the game, other than the goal, and after that they had a free-kick that hit the bar. John made some good saves but the majority were ones I would expect him to make. John can be happy with his day's work. So too the other boys.'
The one sour note was Norwich's collective abdication in failing to deal with Cesc Fabregas' quickly-taken free kick that triggered Costa's winner.
'Ultimately that little lapse in concentration cost us the match,' said Neil. 'We gave the foul away, so the first thing we should do is to get around the ball to stop it being taken quickly or take the ball with us. Even after that we can switch on quicker and recover our positions and we didn't. It is difficult at that stage to try and change your mindset and be more aggressive. You have to remember the boys have put in 70 minutes of hard work and effort in their legs. What you don't want to do then is try to be too expansive and turn a good, solid, steady performance at 1-0 into a 3-0 or 4-0 defeat.'
Alex Tettey (thigh) was a notable injury absentee at Chelsea and Neil confirmed captain Russell Martin missed the trip for personal reasons.
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'Russell was in the squad but he just had to attend to a family issue, so that was the reason for his exclusion,' said Neil. 'Alex had a sore thigh but to be honest that was one I knew about. We just didn't want to alert Chelsea to the fact before the game.'