Norwich 0-0 Chelsea

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport
Fernando Torres is denied by Norwich keeper John Ruddy
Torres has not scored in 17 games for club and country

Fernando Torres endured another miserable day as Norwich frustrated Chelsea to earn a point and further hit the London side's slim title hopes.

Torres, now without a goal in 17 games, went close in an even first half but toe-poked a glorious chance wide as the Blues dominated the second period.

Grant Holt shot narrowly wide for the hosts before the interval.

But goalkeeper John Ruddy had to be in inspired form to help earn his side their first clean sheet of the season.

Ruddy pulled off several classy stops as an increasingly desperate home side battled manfully to keep out the visitors after the break.

With four of the top five meeting on Sunday, the Londoners knew they had a wonderful chance to reduce the 11-point gap on leaders Manchester City.

But Chelsea lacked urgency before half-time, and when they did step up the pace, Ruddy twice saved brilliantly from Juan Mata and also denied Ramires.

Raul Meireles also shot over while Torres squandered the game's best opportunity when he shot wide from 10 yards following great work on the right by Jose Bosingwa.

The outstanding moment and best chance of a first half also fell to the Spaniard when he forced a superb fingertip save from Ruddy.

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas defends Fernando Torres

An incisive counter-attack involving David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ramires freed Torres but his brilliant, curled effort with the outside of his right foot was just kept out by the home keeper.

Those two chances just about summed up the Spaniard's day and indeed his Chelsea career, brilliant in one moment and woeful the next.

The same cannot be said of the Canaries, who thoroughly deserved a draw for a stirring rearguard performance in which Zak Whitbread and Daniel Ayala were outstanding.

Norwich barely had a touch in the opening five minutes but soon settled and their front duo of Holt and Steve Morison provided a strong goal threat and the hosts were by no means second best in the first period.

Their best opening saw Holt fire narrowly wide after a confident surge forward and brilliant piece of control and pass from Morison.

The lively Anthony Pilkington also twice nearly set up goals, and Bradley Johnson could easily have put City ahead but his shot from the edge of the box deflected off John Terry and into the arms of Petr Cech.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea, who resisted the temptation to include new signing Gary Cahill in their squad, looked to Mata for their creativity and the Spaniard once again did not disappoint.

He teed up several half chances and close calls and also shot over after a mazy 40-yard run and was always involved as Chelsea started to boss possession and create chances at will after the break.

But despite racking up the chances, they could not find a way past Ruddy, whose heroics ensured Norwich stay unbeaten this year.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert:

"We defended resolutely when we had to. We have an unbelievable spirit in the group and I thought we were well worthy of a point

"We certainly gave as good as we got, especially in the first half.

Norwich boss Lambert praises 'unbelievable spirit'

"My lads were brilliant. John Ruddy was excellent, but the whole group put their bodies on the line when they had to, and it was a huge point for us.

"When you are playing that level of a team, you have to keep your shape because otherwise they will pick you off."

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas:

"We were punished for our lack of efficiency to find the back of the net. The first half was split but in the second half we were totally dominant.

"We created a lot of opportunities but couldn't find the back of the net. We have to continue to create chances, this is the most important thing.

"John Ruddy had a fantastic game today. A point is not bad but not enough for our title challenge.

"Gary Cahill trained with the team for three days and there are team principles to learn first, but he had a very good week and showed all his qualities. Frank Lampard [who went off injured in the first half] has a muscle tear. I am not 100% sure how serious it is, but from what I have been told it is not that bad."

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