LONDON: Chelsea extended their impressive turnaround under new coach Thomas Tuchel with a 2-0 home win over in-form Everton on Monday (Mar 8) as Kai Havertz played a key role in both goals on his return to the starting 11.
The German had struggled to show why Chelsea paid a reported €71 million (US$98 million) for him last year. But it was his shot that Everton defender Ben Godfrey turned into his own net in the 31st minute after a Marcos Alonso cross.
In the 64th minute, Havertz raced on to a long ball from Mateo Kovacic and was brought down by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Jorginho scored from the spot after his trademark skip and jump to send Pickford the wrong way.
Havertz had put the ball in the back of the net himself in the 53rd minute but a VAR check confirmed that he used his arm to control the ball before turning and striking it past Pickford.
The England goalkeeper pulled off a string of saves to prevent Everton - who had won their previous three matches without conceding a goal - from going down to a heavier defeat.
Everton wasted their only real chance to get themselves back in the game when Richarlison miscued as he shot from a promising position in the box, shortly before Chelsea went 2-0 up.
The win tightened Chelsea's grip on fourth place in the Premier League table, four points ahead of Everton who remained in fifth position ahead of West Ham United's match later on Monday against Leeds United.
It was the sixth win in nine league games for the Blues since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in late January and Chelsea have drawn the other three, conceding only two goals.
Monday's shut-out meant Tuchel became the first manager to secure clean sheets in each of his first five Premier League home games.
Tuchel heaped praise on Havertz who was laid low by COVID-19 in November and was then used mostly as a substitute before picking up an injury last month.
"It was the trust we gave him and he used the trust we gave him. He is a player who has all the ability to be a dominant figure in the offence and he stepped up," Tuchel told BT Sport.