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Chelsea 2-1 Watford: Ross Barkley's late header earns Blues final-day victory

By Matthew HowarthBBC Sport
Ross Barkley, Chelsea, Watford
Ross Barkley scored his first goal of the season in second-half added time to earn Chelsea a last-gasp victory

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says the Blues' "disadvantage" in the transfer market "grows every day" that their prospective takeover remains unresolved.

Todd Boehly's £4.25bn acquisition of the club is expected to be completed later this month, but Tuchel is unable to add to his squad until the purchase is finalised.

The German is expecting to have to replace a number of first-team regulars this summer, with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leaving Stamford Bridge and Spain internationals Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso linked with Barcelona.

"Our hands are tied," Tuchel said after Sunday's win against relegated Watford.

"The disadvantage in terms of timing for the rebuild is big. We have to be fast and smart. There is no need to make excuses now, it's just the situation we're in and we cannot act as we want."

Ross Barkley's late header ensured Chelsea finished the 2021-22 campaign with a narrow victory over the Hornets.

Barkley, making his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions, nodded Reece James' cross past goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann to earn the Blues all three points - four minutes after Dan Gosling had grabbed a late equaliser for the visitors.

Kai Havertz converted a low cross from Kenedy - who was making his first Premier League start for the club since May 2017 - to give the hosts the lead early in the first half.

Gosling's header from Adam Masina's delivery appeared to have earned Watford a share of the spoils, but Barkley scored with virtually the last moment of action to deny Roy Hodgson's team.

Chelsea 2-1 Watford: Late Ross Barkley winner 'changed' Thomas Tuchel's mood

Big summer ahead for Chelsea

Having secured third place courtesy of Thursday's 1-1 draw at home to Leicester, Tuchel made five changes to his starting line-up against the Hornets, handing Kenedy a long-awaited Premier League return for the club and Saul Niguez his first top-flight start since March.

Ben Chilwell was also on the Chelsea bench for the first time since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament in November.

Kenedy, who played just 15 minutes for the Hornets during a loan spell in 2016-17, was particularly lively early on and set up Havertz's opener with a marvellous low cross into the Germany forward's path.

Mason Mount, Chelsea's top Premier League scorer this season with 11, forced a fine save out of Watford keeper Bachmann as Tuchel's side pushed for a second, before Havertz rattled the crossbar from another Kenedy pass.

Chelsea had Edouard Mendy to thank for preserving their slender lead when he denied Joao Pedro from point-blank range early in the second half, but there was nothing the Senegal keeper could do to prevent Gosling from nodding Watford level in the final minute of normal time.

There was still time for one final twist however, as Barkley headed in his first goal of the 2021-22 campaign to lift the mood inside Stamford Bridge.

US billionaire Boehly was in attendance to see the club record only their ninth home league win of the season.

Chelsea 2-1 Watford: Roy Hodgson expects to retire after 'very credible defeat'

Farewell... but not goodbye?

Former England manager Hodgson will have enjoyed his team's second-half showing at Stamford Bridge but it was not enough to earn the Hornets a hard-earned point in front of his successor Rob Edwards.

Edwards will assume the Vicarage Road hot-seat this summer after leading Forest Green Rovers to the League Two title.

Hodgson, 74, said earlier this month he was planning to retire after leaving Watford - and although he stopped short of ruling out ever returning, he suggested after this game that he would be calling it a day.

When he departed Crystal Palace at the end of last season, Hodgson said the "time was right" to step away from the rigours of top-flight football - only to be appointed as Claudio Ranieri's replacement at Vicarage Road in January.

He was unable to lead the Hertfordshire club to safety, collecting just nine points from his 18 league games in charge as the Hornets were relegated.

One man whose Premier League career is definitely at an end is referee Mike Dean, who took charge of his 560th and final top-flight game on Sunday.

Player of the match

MountMason Mount

with an average of 8.34

Chelsea

  1. Squad number19Player nameMount
    Average rating

    8.34

  2. Squad number29Player nameHavertz
    Average rating

    8.32

  3. Squad number21Player nameChilwell
    Average rating

    8.17

  4. Squad number7Player nameKanté
    Average rating

    8.11

  5. Squad number24Player nameJames
    Average rating

    8.10

  6. Squad number6Player nameThiago Silva
    Average rating

    8.09

  7. Squad number18Player nameBarkley
    Average rating

    8.08

  8. Squad number22Player nameZiyech
    Average rating

    7.74

  9. Squad number2Player nameRüdiger
    Average rating

    7.67

  10. Squad number16Player nameMendy
    Average rating

    7.54

  11. Squad number23Player nameKenedy
    Average rating

    7.44

  12. Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta
    Average rating

    7.37

  13. Squad number17Player nameSaúl
    Average rating

    7.28

  14. Squad number31Player nameSarr
    Average rating

    6.88

Watford

  1. Squad number16Player nameGosling
    Average rating

    5.52

  2. Squad number29Player nameCucho Hernández
    Average rating

    4.76

  3. Squad number10Player nameJoão Pedro
    Average rating

    4.73

  4. Squad number11Player nameMasina
    Average rating

    4.71

  5. Squad number19Player nameSissoko
    Average rating

    4.32

  6. Squad number14Player nameKamara
    Average rating

    4.31

  7. Squad number26Player nameBachmann
    Average rating

    4.30

  8. Squad number7Player nameKing
    Average rating

    4.17

  9. Squad number27Player nameKabasele
    Average rating

    4.14

  10. Squad number12Player nameSema
    Average rating

    4.13

  11. Squad number22Player nameSamir
    Average rating

    4.09

  12. Squad number8Player nameCleverley
    Average rating

    4.07

  13. Squad number39Player nameKayembe
    Average rating

    3.95

  14. Squad number21Player nameKiko Femenía
    Average rating

    3.91

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 16Mendy
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 6Thiago Silva
  • 2RüdigerSubstituted forBarkleyat 65'minutes
  • 24James
  • 7Kanté
  • 17Saúl
  • 23KenedySubstituted forSarrat 59'minutes
  • 22Ziyech
  • 19MountSubstituted forChilwellat 89'minutes
  • 29Havertz

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 5Jorginho
  • 9Lukaku
  • 10Pulisic
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 14Chalobah
  • 18Barkley
  • 21Chilwell
  • 31Sarr

Watford

Formation 4-3-3

  • 26Bachmann
  • 21Femenía
  • 27Kabasele
  • 22Samir
  • 14KamaraSubstituted forMasinaat 78'minutes
  • 19Sissoko
  • 39KayembeSubstituted forGoslingat 82'minutes
  • 8Cleverley
  • 7KingSubstituted forHernándezat 72'minutes
  • 10João Pedro
  • 12Sema

Substitutes

  • 2Ngakia
  • 5Troost-Ekong
  • 11Masina
  • 15Cathcart
  • 16Gosling
  • 29Hernández
  • 31Sierralta
  • 34Baah
  • 35Elliot
Referee:
Mike Dean
Attendance:
32,089

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home72%
Away28%
Shots
Home19
Away8
Shots on Target
Home8
Away3
Corners
Home3
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Chelsea 2, Watford 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Watford 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Malang Sarr with a cross.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea).

  5. Post update

    Tom Cleverley (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea 2, Watford 1. Ross Barkley (Chelsea) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Reece James.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Ben Chilwell replaces Mason Mount.

  8. Post update

    Reece James (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Moussa Sissoko (Watford).

  10. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea 1, Watford 1. Dan Gosling (Watford) header from the right side of the six yard box to the top left corner. Assisted by Adam Masina with a cross.

  11. Post update

    Offside, Watford. Kiko Femenía tries a through ball, but Cucho Hernández is caught offside.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea).

  13. Post update

    Samir (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Ross Barkley (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Tom Cleverley (Watford).

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kai Havertz (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ross Barkley.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Mason Mount (Chelsea).

  18. Post update

    Moussa Sissoko (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Dan Gosling replaces Edo Kayembe.

  20. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ross Barkley (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by N'Golo Kanté.

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