Chelsea scores after 39 seconds, beats Norwich 2-1
NORWICH, England (AP) The quickest goal in the English Premier League this season set Chelsea on its way to a 2-1 win over Norwich on Tuesday.
Young Brazilian Kenedy scored after 39 seconds with a fine finish into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area. Diego Costa added Chelsea's second goal just before halftime, chipping over onrushing goalkeeper John Ruddy, albeit from a clearly offside position.
Norwich winger Nathan Redmond scored from a tight angle after 68 minutes, but Chelsea hung on for a win that provisionally left the team five points off a Europa League place as its fine run of form under interim manager Guus Hiddink continued.
Norwich is now without a win in its last seven league games, and has dropped into the relegation zone on 24 points.
Chelsea, which was still without captain John Terry following a hamstring injury, made a lightning start with Kenedy's low shot into the bottom corner in the first minute.
But there was worse to come for the home side, when Cesc Fabregas took a quick throw to Bertrand Traore and he found Costa, who peeled round to collect the ball before clipping it over Ruddy. Replays showed Costa was clearly offside.
Norwich, which improved greatly in the second half, will count itself unlucky not to have taken any points from the game, with Cameron Jerome hitting the crossbar before Redmond's fine finish into the roof of the net.
''We didn't want to go into the battle but they forced us,'' Hiddink said. ''We were sloppy in the first half, starting well with a beautiful goal and I think we could have finished it in the first half. We were complacent in the last pass.''
Chelsea's third consecutive league win - for the first time this season - will give fans further hope that the defending champions could still secure a European place by the end of the season.