Lamps double lifts Blues
Chelsea close the gap on United to nine points
Last Updated: March 7, 2011 11:04pm
Lampard celebrates his brace
Frank Lampard bagged a brace as Chelsea closed the gap on Manchester United to nine points with a 3-1 win over Blackpool.
John Terry's header gave the visitors a half-time lead, although the Seasiders nearly levelled when Peter Cech parried Jason Puncheon's shot onto the post.
Chelsea were far from their best, but doubled their advantage just after the hour mark when substitute Salomon Kalou was brought down in the penalty area allowing Lampard to slot home.
The two combined again moments later when Lampard collected Kalou's through-ball and he slotted past Richard Kingson with consummate ease to make sure of the points.
Blackpool did have the last laugh when the lively on-loan Puncheon drilled a left-footed shot past Cech's outstretched arm following a poor giveaway by the visitors.
The win moves Carlo Ancelotti's team to within nine points of the slumping league leaders Manchester United with a game in hand on Sir Alex Ferguson's troops.
Australian David Carney tried to test Cech early on, cutting the ball back on to his right foot, but could only curl a shot straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Minutes later he found himself clear in the area after Jose Bosingwa failed to win possession but opted not to shoot, misplaced his pass and the opportunity was lost.
Blackpool looked far more the inventive team, with Chelsea's front two of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres - still to open his account for his new club after 406 goalless minutes of action - again failing to impress as a partnership.
However, the hosts could not make their early possession tell and Seasiders manager Ian Holloway would have been fuming with the manner in which his side conceded the opening goal against the run of play.
When Lampard swung over a 20th minute right-wing corner, Terry easily slipped his marker to head home the simplest of chances.
The visitors briefly threatened to press home the advantage, with Bosingwa forcing Kingson into a fingertip save with a left-footed shot from the right angle of the penalty area, but it was not long before Blackpool resumed control.
They were almost gifted an equaliser in the 33rd minute when Puncheon found space in the inside-right channel to skip past David Luiz and shoot low at Cech, who let the ball slip through his fingers and was relieved to see it bounce off a post.
The Czech goalkeeper was only slightly more convincing when he just managed to get a fingertip on Ian Evatt's cross-shot to help it over the crossbar.
Chelsea finished the half as they had started it, under pressure, although Ramires' long-range effort had Kingson diving to his right to palm his shot behind in added time.
Drogba lasted less than 10 minutes of the second half before he fell under a challenge from James Beattie in the Chelsea penalty area and was replaced by Solomon Kalou.
More by luck than invention the substitution provided the visitors the spark which they had been missing for most of the game.
Within seven minutes of coming on, Kalou won a penalty when Evatt felled him in the box, allowing Lampard to put his side in the comfort zone from the spot.
Four minutes later the England midfielder slotted home his fourth goal in as many matches after Kalou again provided the through-ball.
As if things were not bad enough for Blackpool, Kingson then had to go off injured and be replaced by Mark Halstead.
With nine minutes to go, substitute Matt Phillips should have reduced the deficit when sent racing clear by Keith Southern, but he flashed a shot wide of Cech's far post.
Puncheon succeeded where his team-mate had failed from a similar position in the 86th minute, but it did nothing to ease Blackpool's growing worries.They have won only once in the last nine matches and have been sucked into a relegation battle, just two points above the bottom three.
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|8||Shots off Target||5|
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