Blues stumble but march on
By Chris Stanton. Last Updated: 29/10/05 4:50pm
Chelsea returned to winning ways with a 4-2 success over Blackburn at Stamford Bridge, inspired by a brace from Frank Lampard.
Didier Drogba's opener and Lampard's penalty appeared to have steered the champions on course to victory but the hosts were forced to regroup following a brisk riposte from Rovers which saw Craig Bellamy's double send the visitors in level at half time.
But second half goals from Lampard and Joe Cole secured the win and ensured Jose Mourinho's charges overcame the disappointment of successive draws during the past week.
Drogba met William Gallas's cross but an awkward bounce coupled with an erratic finish saw the ball return from whence it came as Chelsea tried to catch the visitors napping.
The goal Chelsea's bright start alluded to arrived a minute later, however. Lampard's short corner found Drogba who headed past Brad Friedel although the Ivorian was assisted by slack marking from Rovers defender Zurab Khizanishvili.
Chelsea's tails were up and Michael Essien advanced before clearing Friedel's left hand post.
Referee Mike Riley then handed The Blues the opportunity to double their lead. Andy Todd tussled with John Terry in what appeared six of one and half a dozen of the other. The official pointed to the penalty spot and Lampard did the rest having sent Friedel the wrong way.
In a high octane opening, a third goal arrived four minutes later with Rovers earning a spot kick of their own. Chelsea were ragged in their clearance of a Rovers corner and Ricardo Carvalho - back after a two-match absence - slid in on Khizanishvili. Once again Riley had no hesitation in awarding the penalty. Like Lampard before him Bellamy sent the goalkeeper the wrong to halve Rovers' arrears.
Asier Del Horno should have restored The Blues' two-goal lead but headed over after Lampard's free kick found him unmarked. The covering Brett Emerton was then on hand to clear Drogba's hooked cross as the pressure on the visitors grew.
Having put in his defensive shift, the Australian found himself in more familiar territory moments later after linking well with Morten Gamst Pedersen but Petr Cech saved his near post effort.
Following a rumbustuous opening there was a lull in proceedings but on the stroke of half time Rovers claimed an unlikely equaliser Terry's backheader appeared to pose no danger to The Blues or opening for Rovers but Cech fluffed his clearance, Shefki Kuqi headed the loose ball across goal and Bellamy's stooping header narrowly eluded the flailing Czech.
But Chelsea re-emerged in the second half defiant and Lampard was quick to test Friedel from distance.
A tempestuous passage of play ensued, with Rovers particularly aggrieved at the officiating of Riley. Mark Hughes's frustration boiled over and he was sent to the stands. Seconds later and Hughes's bemusement appeared to have been vindicated when Pedersen was inexplicably adjudged to have fouled Essien when the Ghanaian was in fact the aggressor.
Tugay then clipped Cole to earn a yellow card and from the resulting free kick, Lampard swung the ball over. Friedel anticipated a touch from Terry which never came and the ball found the bottom right hand corner and two minutes after the hour Chelsea had regained the initiative at 3-2.
From a similar position to the goal, Lampard directed another free kick towards the opposite corner but Friedel was alive to the danger. The expected Blue tide which up until now had not materialised was now in full evidence. Cole advanced and shot low, Friedel appeared to have the 74th minute shot covered but Khizanishvili's deflection carried the ball into the bottom corner.
In a rare breakaway, Emerton's run found substitute Paul Dickov who shot high over but an assistant's flag spared his blushes. Still Chelsea poured forward and Friedel beat out Lampard's shot only for another substitute to exhibit ring rust with Eidur Gudjohnsen skying the rebound.
Michael Gray's shot forced an unconvincing save from Cech but from Pedersen's pull back, Steven Reid was unfortunate to see his effort deflect narrowly wide.
There was to be no second reprieve for Rovers but Chelsea's return to form is marked and for the rest of The Premiership the portents are increasingly ominous.
Click for Chelsea v Blackburn player ratings.
|Chelsea||Team Name||Blackburn Rovers|
|10||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|8||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||2|
|12||Total Fouls Conceded||21|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||27||25|