A disjointed Chelsea side secured a hard-fought victory over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night, in a match that was suspended for 35 minutes after a supporter suffered a cardiac arrest in the stands.
Watford started the match on the front foot and came close to taking the lead twice in the opening five minutes. First, Joao Pedro saw his low goal-bound shot blocked by Trevoh Chalobah, before Edouard Mendy was forced into an excellent save after Cesar Azpilicueta inadvertently deflected a cross towards his own goal.
However, the match was halted in the 11th minute when it became clear a medical emergency was unfolding in the stands. The players were taken off the field and the match was suspended as a supporter received CPR from paramedics after a cardiac arrest.
Thankfully the man was stabilised after half an hour and was taken to hospital before play resumed following a five-minute warm-up.
Watford continued where they left off, but almost went behind against the run of play as Mason Mount thumped the outside of the post. On the half-hour mark, the England international was on the scoresheet, firing into the bottom corner after a good move involving Marcos Alonso and Kai Havertz.
The hosts did not let their heads drop though, with Danny Rose’s half-volley forcing another good save from Mendy before the equaliser arrived shortly before half-time.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was dispossessed in the middle of the park by Moussa Sissoko, who drove forward and fed Emmanuel Dennis, whose shot squeezed through Antonio Rudiger’s legs and into the bottom corner.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, although Watford were unable to maintain their intensity and create as many chances.
Chelsea capitalised, snatching the lead with just over 15 minutes remaining. Mount did extremely well to reach the byline, before cutting it back for substitute Hakim Ziyech to fire into the roof of the net.
The Moroccan should have had a second shortly afterwards, but he headed straight at Daniel Bachmann after Havertz delivered a fine cross.
Watford huffed and puffed but never created a clear-cut chance to equalise. Juraj Kucka stung Mendy’s fingertips with a long-range free kick in stoppage time, but that was as good as it got.
Here’s how the players rated…
Daniel Bachmann (GK) – 6/10 – Got a hand to Mount’s strike, but couldn’t keep it out. No chance for Ziyech’s goal.
Kiko Femenia (RB) – 6/10 – Defensively sound, although probably didn’t get forward as much as he’d have liked.
Craig Cathcart (CB) – 7/10 – So watchful at the back, keeping Havertz shackled for the most part.
William Troost-Ekong (CB) – 6/10 – Booked for a very heavy foul on Mount. Lucky to escape a second yellow for easing Christian Pulisic into the advertising hoardings.
Adam Masina (LB) – N/A – Injured inside ten minutes and forced off just as it became clear a medical emergency was unfolding.
Imran Louza (DM) – 7/10 – Very tidy operator. Technically the best centre-midfielder on the field in the first half. Faded after the break and eventually subbed.
Moussa Sissoko (CM) – 8/10 – Bossed Saul and Loftus-Cheek, who were there for the taking in all honesty. Brilliant tackle and assist for the leveller.
Tom Cleverley (CM) – 6/10 – Less influential than his central colleagues, but did the dirty work reasonably well.
Emmanuel Dennis (RW) – 8/10 – Bang in form. Worked hard down the flank and used his physicality so well. Squeezed the ball through Rudiger and into the corner to equalise.
Josh King (ST) – 5/10 – Peripheral compared to some of his teammates.
Joao Pedro (LW) – 6/10 – So close to opening the scoring in the opening exchanges, but denied by Chalobah’s block. Quiet night otherwise.
Danny Rose (LB) – 7/10 – Introduced for Masina. Got straight up with the pace of the game and bit into the tackle. Drew a good save with a driven half-volley.
Juraj Kucka (CM) – 6/10 – Stung Mendy’s fingertips with a free kick from long-range.
Jeremy Ngakia (RB) – N/A
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 8/10 – Made an excellent save five minutes in after Azpilicueta inadvertently diverted a cross towards his own goal. Further top saves from Rose and Kucka.
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – 6/10 – Superb early block to keep out Pedro’s low goal-bound effort. Looked nervy in possession, though. Moved into the midfield after the break but forced off after hurting his hamstring just before the hour mark.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 6/10 – Just about kept his cool in possession, but struggled a bit with the physical battle.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 – Didn’t deal particularly well with Watford’s early pressing. Not great 1v1 defending for the equaliser. Recovered and was typically solid late on.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RWB) – 6/10 – Nowhere near the influence of Reece James but did his defensive job. Quiet night before being subbed.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CM) – 6/10 – Unable to get any sort of grip on the game amid Watford’s relentless pressing. Did deliciously chapêau a defender and drew a foul.
Saul Niguez (CM) – 4/10 – Booked for a trip on Dennis. Laboured, often losing the physical battle. Hooked at half-time again, although it could easily have been Loftus-Cheek.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 6/10 – Struggled as he was penned in in the first period. Excellent run for the opener. Booked.
Mason Mount (RF) – 8/10 – Very close to opening the scoring against the run of play, thumping the outside of the post. The one player who matched Watford’s intensity, popping up to thump home the opener. Wonderful assist for Ziyech to make it 2-1.
Kai Havertz (CF) – 7/10 – Some nice touches and a neat assist for Mount – although he could have shot himself. Brilliant turn and low cross after half-time, but no-one in the middle. A long, languid run led to a save from Bachmann.
Christian Pulisic (LF) – 6/10 – Loose in possession in the nervy opening exchanges. Moved to wing-back and chipped in defensively.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – On for Saul at the break as Chelsea reshuffled. Showed his worth off the bench.
Hakim Ziyech (RF) – 7/10 – Booked and misplaced a couple of passes horribly. Quality when it mattered though, producing an emphatic finish to restore the lead.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 6/10 – Hold-up play wasn’t quite what it usually is.