Tammy Abraham doubles up as Chelsea edge Norwich in five-goal thriller

Jacob Steinberg at Carrow Road on 24 August 2019

Frank Lampard stood in his technical area until the bitter end, oozing tension as he urged his players on and applauded every tackle. This is what the job has done to Chelsea’s new manager. He was a bag of nerves until the sweet sound of Martin Atkinson’s final whistle allowed him to march across the pitch and milk the applause of the adoring travelling fans, who were ecstatic after seeing their favourite son finally get off the mark.

Victorious in a competitive fixture at the fourth time of asking, Lampard could feel the weight lifting off his shoulders. He admitted that he was relieved after Chelsea belatedly tamed their boisterous promoted opponents and he also took immense satisfaction from another outstanding performance from Mason Mount and a clinical display in attack from Tammy Abraham, who scored his first goals for the club, both sharp finishes.

All the same this was only the first step on a long road for Lampard’s young side. They remain a team in transition, a group grasping for maturity, and better sides than Norwich will take note of the defensive failings that threatened to undermine Chelsea again.

They are yet to keep a clean sheet this season and the chaos of the opening period summed up the erratic start to the Lampard era. While there were bursts of electrifying attacking play, Chelsea suffered from a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal at times and the absence of N’Golo Kanté left a one-paced midfield vulnerable to Norwich’s creativity.

Lampard’s head must have been swimming once the first half was over. After three minutes he stood in his technical area, arms outstretched as Abraham cantered towards him after smashing a fine volley past Tim Krul. The 21-year-old striker was recently targeted with racial abuse on social media and many doubt whether he is polished enough to lead the line for Chelsea, but this was a display that suggested he could yet be the answer.

“Tammy has had a tough little period for reasons we all know and strikers get judged purely on goals sometimes,” Chelsea’s manager said. “But if you talk about the character to play for this club, Tammy is right up there.”

For a brief period it seemed that Chelsea were on the right track. They had even found a way to make a moment of ill fortune work in their favour. Lampard was forced to shift Mount to the left when Pedro suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up and the youngster played a prominent role in the opening goal, opening up the pitch with a raking pass out to Christian Pulisic, who combined with César Azpilicueta to tee up Abraham.

Yet the visitors were ahead for only three minutes. With Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho offering minimal resistance in midfield, Emiliano Buendía chopped a pass through to Teemu Pukki and the striker crossed for Todd Cantwell to bundle in the equaliser.

Mason Mount celebrates after scoring.
Mason Mount celebrates after scoring. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Carrow Road roared, sensing that Chelsea were there for the taking, but Daniel Farke’s side were behind again in the 17th minute. Released by Ross Barkley, Mount swerved inside and scored for the second time in a week.

Back came Norwich, eager to protect an 11-game unbeaten run at home. Buoyed by Chelsea’s profligacy in front of goal, Buendía slipped a pass behind Kurt Zouma, who failed to react in time as Pukki fired a low shot underneath Kepa Arrizabalaga for his fifth goal in three games.

The second half was quieter, more controlled, but both sides continued to chase a winning goal. Just when it seemed that Norwich had the edge, Chelsea countered, Kovacic fed Abraham and the striker’s shot from 20 yards eluded the unsighted Krul.

Still Chelsea struggled to close the game out. They escaped when Ben Godfrey’s late header hit the bar and Lampard could celebrate at last.

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