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Giroud goal keeps Chelsea in hunt

Premier League: Chelsea 1 Norwich City 0

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Olivier Giroud. Photo: Reuters

Olivier Giroud. Photo: Reuters

Pool via REUTERS

Olivier Giroud. Photo: Reuters

Olivier Giroud wasted a hat-trick of chances before heading Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Norwich to boost the Blues' Champions League qualification hopes.

Giroud nodded in Christian Pulisic's teasing cross at Stamford Bridge for his third goal in as many league starts, easing Chelsea's lingering pain from Saturday's 3-0 humbling at Sheffield United.

Leicester's shock 4-1 hammering at Bournemouth and Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Southampton had handed Frank Lampard's men a double reprieve after their comprehensive loss at Bramall Lane.

The Blues had no business wasting such an unexpected opportunity to cement third place in the table against the already-relegated Canaries, and boss Lampard knew as much - making five changes from the weekend's frustrating defeat.

For much of the first-half both Chelsea and Giroud appeared to be heading for an agonising evening, but then the France hitman headed home and the entire west London mood changed.

Boast

Chelsea now boast a four-point lead on both fourth-placed Leicester and United in fifth, though both those teams have an extra game left to play.

On another night Giroud could have had four, but in the end his solitary headed goal could wind up finally pushing the Blues into next term's Champions League.

Ajax signing Hakim Ziyech was in the stands to watch his new team-mates, with the Morocco forward already training with the Blues ahead of being available for action next term.

Right at the death of the first-half, Giroud put paid to a hugely frustrating 45 minutes.

The continually outstanding Pulisic had drifted onto the left wing, checked back onto his right foot - and delivered a sumptuous cross.

Giroud had precious little option other than to nod the Blues into the lead.

And how the Frenchman toasted that goal with relish, exchanging high fives and fist bumps with Jorginho.

Because in everything that came his way before his goal, Giroud had botched, and in some style.