Classy Chelsea stretch gap
By Patrick Goss. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Chelsea took another giant leap toward the Premiership title as they strolled to a 3-0 win over Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge.
The gulf in class within the top-flight was there for all to see as Arjen Robben propelled his side to an 11-point lead at the top, scoring one and playing a key role in both goals for Didier Drogba's brace, to all but wrap up the game inside 45 minutes.
Portsmouth had started the game brightly, but the first half soon became a master-class in one-touch football from The Blues - with Robben pulling the strings.
A somewhat lethargic start from the hosts must have given the travelling Pompey fans brief hope of a rare off day at Stamford Bridge, but with 15 minutes gone those hopes were extinguished by Drogba's opener.
Inevitably, it was the artistry of Robben that carved out the chance - the Dutch winger slipping all too easily down the right flank, skipping a wild lunge from Gary O'Neil and cutting back for Drogba to side-foot home from a matter of a couple of yards.
Several darting runs, and six minutes later, and Robben was on the scoresheet himself, cantering onto a slide-rule pass from Frank Lampard, clipping the ball past the onrushing Jamie Ashdown and slotting home into the empty net from a tight angle.
Portsmouth should have got themselves back into the game when Lampard uncharacteristically played a dreadful pass back towards the defence allowing Yakubu Aiyegbeni to race through but steer his shot narrowly past the post.
Hopes of an unlikely comeback were all but ended when Robben was cynically bundled over by David Unsworth as he threatened to beat four Pompey players on the edge of the area.
Drogba took the resultant free kick, and his powerful effort was only helped into the back of the net by the hapless Ashdown.
The second half was always likely to be something of a disappointment, as Chelsea passed out the match in low gear and restricted their beleaguered opposition with consummate ease.
Dejan Stefanovic got away with a handball appeal in his own penalty area, as Duff's cross was blocked, but it was a rare moment of opportunity.
O'Neil had Portsmouth fans on their feet with a free kick that would have troubled a less statuesque keeper than Petr Cech, but the Czech international parried.
Mateja Kezman and Eidur Gudjohnsen were given a run out, and the former was unlucky when his shot across Ashdown beat both the keeper and the far post.
Lampard drew a save late on as Pompey heads dropped and much of the away side's effort seemed to be from the impressive Diomansy Kamara.
With Arsenal not in action until Sunday, a victory was always going to stretch the lead in The Premiership, but Chelsea achieved their win in imperious manner.
In Robben, Chelsea look to have captured one of the most outstanding players in the world - but in truth much of their stellar squad look a class above as The Blues make themselves champions elect with months of play remaining.
Chelsea v Portsmouth player ratings
|7||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||2|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|4||Total Fouls Conceded||9|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|