Chelsea clinched their first Premier League title for five years as Jose Mourinho’s side produced a typically stubborn display to grind out a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace at a jubilant Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Playmaker Eden Hazard scored the crucial goal in the 45th minute when he headed home the rebound after Palace keeper Julian Speroni had saved his weak penalty. Chelsea were tested at times by a dangerous Palace side but the final whistle was greeted by raucous scenes as the Blues clinched their fifth top-flight title and the first since 2010. Chelsea have 83 points from 35 games and cannot be surpassed by closest rivals Manchester City and Arsenal.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Chelsea captain John Terry. “We’ve worked so hard, so to get over the line is great. It was a bit nervy — they are a good side and made it difficult. Thankfully Hazard got the goal and we won the game.”
The skipper added that the long wait makes this title all the more special. “This is what I live for,” he said. “It’s been five years since we last won it. The first one was special and you go four or five years without it and that hurts. So I’ll really enjoy it today.”
Blustery, grey conditions had lingered for much of Sunday morning but kick-off in West London was greeted by the sudden emergence of sunshine which reflected the celebratory mood created by Chelsea’s expectant fans inside Stamford Bridge.
Match-winner Hazard, recently voted player of the year by England’s Professional Footballers’ Association, said Chelsea deserve their triumph. “We deserve to be champions, and everyone at Chelsea is happy today,” he said. “The manager [Mourinho] gives me a lot of feelings and I can play my best football on the pitch which is the most important thing. I know the team need me and a player like me. I am here to score, and this season all the players did well.”
Veteran Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, like Mourinho in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, was also gushing with excitement as he nears the twilight of an illustrious career. “This one is sweet. Chelsea will always be my number one club. It’s my third time to win it in front of the fans and it’s amazing.”
Mourinho happy to win ‘most difficult’ title
Mourinho said his side had won the toughest league in world football. Chelsea have now won the title three times under Mourinho but this is the first since the Portuguese manager returned to the London club for a second spell in charge in 2013.
“When I came back I knew that I was coming back to the most difficult league to win in the world of football. And we’ve done it,” said the 52-year-old. “Crystal Palace were fantastic with the way they played. For a team that is middle of the table that is fantastic and is the nature of football here. From day one to today nobody gave us anything. Everything we got we deserved it.”
The manager added that he is exhausted with the effort it took to win. “I am very happy and proud. I need a rest, I’m tired. It’s not easy to cope with that, but finally mathematically we are champions now. Finally we can breathe, relax and enjoy,” said Mourinho. “I think last season we were building something. I always thought when this season started, and then winning match after match, I was feeling the team would be ready.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2015.
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