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Chelsea 3 - 0 Sheffield Utd


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Chelsea 3 – 0 Sheffield United

241966405_cec3cee3ed.jpgFA Premier League – 17/March/07, 15:00 kick-off – Stamford BridgeChelsea picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Manchester United earlier today with a convincing 3-0 victory over Sheffield United. A sensational strike from Andrei Shevchenko opened the floodgates, before Salomon Kalou and Michael Ballack wrapped up the three points for the Champions.Following their midweek game at Manchester City, Chelsea had just two days to prepare for the arrival of Neil Warnock's men, but the Blues where more than ready to take the Blades head-on in a fairly uneven contest.However, the scoreline did not make a true reflection on the game, as Sheffield United did not come to Stamford Bridge to defend, and put together many attacks that the Chelsea defence managed to hold at bay.Sheffield United have been something of a revelation this season. Despite coming into today's game in 15th position in the Premiership, a draw against Liverpool on the opening day and home victories against Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Spurs and Fulham - and away to Newcastle and Wigan - have given United a strong foothold in the battle for Premiership survival.Chelsea, though, deserve their fair share of the accolades, however. Despite loosing influential midfielder Joe Cole for virtually the entire season, and long-term absences from John Terry and Petr Cech, the West Londoners have been fantastic in their dogged pursuit of Manchester United. It seems Chelsea will not give up their Premiership trophy without a true battle. Matching United win-for-win since both teams lost away to Liverpool and Arsenal respectively, Chelsea have never allowed the league leaders out of their sights. Chelsea welcomed back Khalid Boulahrouz for his first start since the FA Cup 5th Round tie with Norwich City, replacing Gérémi at right-back. Claude Makelele continued as the holding midfielder, but Michael Essien missed out once more due to the knee injury he had suffered against Tottenham. There were rests too, for Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba. John Obi Mikel was on the bench, and Shaun Wright-Phillips started.Sheffield United captain Chris Morgan overcame a tight hamstring which he had suffered in training, and Colin Kazim-Richards replaced John Stead. There were no fresh injury worries for the team ahead of this highly-anticipated Premiership clash.Things got off to the best possible start for Chelsea, who had conceded a goal in the first fifteen minutes of four of their last six games. However, with five consecutive Premiership clean sheets heading into the game, there was little chance of an upset._42694729_shev220.jpgLampard celebrates with Shevchenko, after the Ukrainian's stunning finish.United started on the offensive, but a brilliant interception from Ricardo Carvalho gave the Portuguese defender room to run into the opposition forward. Getting around three defenders, he launched a perfectly-weighted cross field ball to the unmarked Andrei Shevchenko who had found himself in acres of space. The Ukrainian took the ball on his thigh, allowed it to bounce once and lashed it into the back of the net with his 'weaker' foot after just three and a half minutes. Shevchenko's first goal in the Premiership for four months was his twelfth in all competitions since moving from AC Milan in the summer.For much of the opening twenty minutes, Sheffield United were on the back foot, as the teasing runs of Robben, Wright-Phillips and Kalou lead to exposure of Paddy Kenny's goal. Once such cross from Wright-Phillips was brilliantly flicked on by Shevchenko, into the path of Kalou. The young Ivorian volleyed home from six yards to seal the points for Chelsea and also his second goal in three starts._42694781_kalou300.jpgSalomon Kalou celebrates his 6th Chelsea gaol with Ashley Cole.However, if anyone thought Chelsea would have run of the mill, they were mistaken.Colin Kazim-Richards had his effort palmed away by Cech and the 'keeper was again tested when Rob Hulse's overhead kick went marginally over the bar.But the moment which overshadowed the game was soon to come.Keith Gillespie put the ball into the box, beyond the leg of Terry, with Cech had to deal with. However, as he went for the ball, Rob Hulse trod on the ball before colliding with Cech. The striker's ankle twisted 180 degrees and was stretchered off after an eight minute delay. A burst of applause followed from the Matthew Harding Stand, with Hulse suffering a suspected double fracture.Half-time arrived, after Nade came on to replace Hulse. Ballack replaced Lampard at half-time with one eye on the FA Cup replay at Tottenham on Monday evening, and many other key players were to be substituted.A fairly quiet second half saw Michael Ballack head home his sixth Chelsea goal after Shaun Wright-Phillips' devilishly-whipped freekick evaded the United defence and was nodded home by a towering Ballack long before Paddy Kenny had a hope of reaching the ball._42695263_ballack300300.jpgMichael Ballack nods home his sixth Chelsea goal.Shevchenko continued to impress but he show just wide from 12 yards, and Wright-Phillips drilled a shot into the side netting.Drogba came on to replace the Ukrainian late on, and Paulo Ferreira also came on to give Ashley Cole a rest. Drogba had an effort cleared off the line with ten minutes remaining, but the game was won - with a landslide possession percentage.Squads and Line-UpsChelsea (4-3-3) Cech, Boulahrouz, Carvalho, Terry ©, A Cole (Ferreira 65); Wright-Phillips, Makelele, Lampard (Ballack 45); Kalou, Shevchenko (Drogba 65), Robben. Scorers Shevchenko 3, Kalou 16, Ballack 57. Sheff Utd (4-4-1-1) Kenny; Geary, Morgan ©, Davis, Armstrong; Gillespie, Montgomery, Jagielka, Kazim-Richards; A Quinn (Tonge 67); Hulse (Nade 26).The Ratings - How they ScoredKey:1: Woeful, 2: Inexistant Contribution, 3: Poor, 4: Quiet, 5: Tried, 6: Average, 7: Good, 8: Involved, 9: Excellent, 10: FantasticPetr Cech - 6 - Average. Nothing to do.Boulahrouz - 6 - Average. Comfrtable game, had little to do in truthCarvalho - 8 - Involved. Fantastic run for Sheva's goal - worked hardTerry - 6 - Average. Quiet game for skipper who's form is returning.Cole - 7 - Good. Might have got on scoresheet. Strong defensively. Wright-Phillips - 8 - Involved. Put some great crosses in and played well in the midfield. Two assists.Makelele - 7 - Good. Did his job with minimal fuss.Lampard - 7 - Involved. Excellent performance from the midfield dynamo.Robben - 6 - Quiet. But some good balls in. Unlucky to score.Shevchenko - 7 - Good. Spectacular goal and worked hard.Kalou - 7 - Good. Clincial finish and teased the full-backs.Ballack - 7 - Good. Replaced Lampard. Excellent header.Paulo Ferreira - 6 - Average. Replaced Cole. Didn't do much. Didn't need to.Drogba - 6 - Average. Replaced Shevchenko. Average game but deserved a rest.Overall team rating - 8 - A typical home perfoamnce - a strong win without causing too many problems for the visitors and looking comfortable. Maybe one home game we'll go all-out for the win and score 9 or 10?Sheffield United - 7 - They gave their best - and actually tried to play football.Referee - 8 - Chris Foy had a decent game and allowed the game to flow.StatisticsChelsea - Sheffield United5 - Shots on target - 4 5 - Shots off Target - 3 3 - Blocked Shots - 0 5 - Corners Won - 1 7 - Total Fouls Conceded - 10 2 - Offsides - 2 0 - Yellow Cards - 0 0 - Red Cards - 0 69% - Possession - 31% Star Man329856-1667282-458-238.jpgAndrei ShevchenkoThe GoalsAndrei Shevchenko: 1-0Salomon Kalou: 2-0Michael Ballack: 3-0

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