Chelsea came through a difficult night at Watford with a hard-fought 2-1 win courtesy of Hakim Ziyech’s late goal on Wednesday night.
Only 13 minutes into the match, referee David Coote called a halt to proceedings while a fan was treated for a medical emergency in the stands. A delay of over 20 minutes allowed first responders to stabilise the man’s condition, after he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Vicarage Road applauded as the fan was taken away in an ambulance and the Hornets, having started the game stronger, took little time to get back into the swing of things after the restart.
Yet it was Chelsea who led against the run of play, Mason Mount finishing off a passing move with time and space after he had hit the post in the Blues’ first attack.
Watford, as any Claudio Ranieri team should, refused to be disheartened and continued to be a threat as the half dragged on.
Emmanuel Dennis struck the equaliser after beating Antonio Rudiger with a stepover and Edouard Mendy with a shot that deflected in off the defender.
Thomas Tuchel turned to his bench at the break, which came almost 90 minutes after kick-off, and brought Thiago Silva on for Saul Niguez – ending his second Premier League start in a row at half-time.
But a simple second-half was not forthcoming as Watford showed their grit to rustle the Blues’ feathers – both teams committing a series of fouls to earn multiple bookings.
Romelu Lukaku was called off the bench for the final 20 minutes as Tuchel, having earlier lost Trevoh Chalobah to injury, made continual tactical rejigs.
It finally paid off as Ziyech, the replacement for Chalobah, pounced on Mount’s cross on 72 minutes to put Chelsea back in front and keep them top of the table.