19 May 2024

Moises Caicedo scores from halfway line as Chelsea end with fifth straight win

19 May 2024

Chelsea secured European football for next season as they signed off a chaotic campaign with a fifth consecutive Premier League victory, Moises Caicedo’s stunning halfway-line goal helping them defeat Bournemouth 2-1.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose future is set to be decided in the coming days following meetings with the club’s hierarchy to dissect progress under his leadership, saw his team break the deadlock in the first half when Caicedo took possession of a loose pass from goalkeeper Neto and lobbed it in for one of the goals of the season.

It was a fitting end to Caicedo’s debut campaign in west London, a player whose rapid progress during the last five matches has mirrored that of the team under Pochettino.

The Argentinian’s Chelsea rebuild looked to be in tatters when they lost 5-0 to Arsenal on April 23, but 16 points from their final six fixtures and performances that have far surpassed those from early in his tenure have meant a sixth-place finish, sealed when Raheem Sterling added a second goal just after the break, the ball deflecting in off Neto.

Bournemouth pulled one back when Enes Unal’s effort was deflected in by Benoit Badiashile but barring victory for Manchester United against City in the FA Cup final on May 25, Chelsea will qualify for the Europa League.

Should United prevail  at Wembley then the Blues will take the consolation prize of a Conference League spot.

Chelsea made a blistering start. Nicholas Jackson drew a fine left-handed save from Neto at his near post, before Cole Palmer, the newly crowned Premier League Young Player of the Season, bent a shot wide after a driving run from Sterling.

Conor Gallagher dragged an effort wide following excellent work to win the ball back in midfield by Caicedo.

It was from almost the same spot that the Ecuadoran gave his team the lead after 17 minutes.

Neto had more time than he seemed to realise after racing from his goal to thwart Sterling, but still Caicedo had work to do to ensure he was first to the goalkeeper’s wayward pass. Once in possession though, and urged by home fans to attempt the improbable, he unleashed an almighty punt from a yard inside the Bournemouth half that dropped in beneath the crossbar for 1-0.

Bournemouth finished the first half in the ascendecy. First, Justin Kluivert lashed over the bar from 18 yards, then James Tavernier danced sideways across the pitch in possession before drilling goalwards, Djordje Petrovic saving and clinging on well.

Unal should have levelled at the start of the second half, just failing to get a touch on Lewis Cook’s fizzed ball across goal.

Bournemouth would quickly come to rue their luck. Within a minute, Sterling had advanced into their box down the left and struck an attempted square ball that diverted in off Neto.

Unal offered an instant respite, his left-footed effort bouncing past Petrovic off the outstretched foot of Benoit Badiashile to complete a whirlwind start to the second period.

A renewed Bournemouth kept Chelsea inside their own half for the next 20 minutes, without finding the critical ball needed to open up the home side.

Christopher Nkunku came off the bench and headed over from 12 yards after reaching Palmer’s free-kick as Chelsea looked to settle it.

Petrovic dived well to turn aside Dango Ouattara’s driven shot in the closing minutes, then Dominic Solanke wasted a golden chance to nick Bournemouth a point in stoppage time.

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