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Chelsea 2-1 Wigan


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Chelsea F.C. 2-1 Wigan Athletic

February 28 2009, FA Premier League, Stamford Bridge, West London

Chelsea captain John Terry scores a magnificent opener for the hosts.

Frank Lampard scored his 125th goal for Chelsea to earn them a win over a belligerent Wigan side.

Wigan had earlier created several guilt-edged opportunities to go ahead, but Guus Hiddink's side took the lead when captain John Terry scored a brilliant volley from the edge of the area which took the slightest of deflections on the way past Latics goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. The Blues, however, were guilty of missing clear cut chances, and were made to pay when Olivier Kapo scored an 82nd minute equaliser. But in the dying seconds, Lampard headed home beyond the Wigan goalkeeper following Ballack's flick-on to send the Blues up to second in the Premier League ahead of Liverpool, who lost 2-0 at Middlesbrough.

And on a day where John Terry became Chelsea's top-scoring defender, surpassing Peter Sillet's tally of 34 goals, another homegrown talent; Michael Mancienne, made his first Premier League start for the club. And on a day of records, Frank Lampard took his goal count up to 15 for the season and 125 in total for the Blues - making him the joint-sixth top scorer in the history of the club.

Hiddink made just one change from the side that won against Juventus, with the aforementioned Mancienne taking on the right back role in place of the suspended Jose Bosingwa. Ricardo Quaresma was on the bench after completing another appearance for the reserves in his bid to regain match sharpness.

Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka continued to show the media that they were more than capable of playing up front together, when the pair combined with six minutes on the clock. The Ivorian's shot was blocked, but Chelsea had begun positively.

However, the chance seemed to wake the visitors up, who began to hassle the Chelsea players when they had possession of the ball, and Lee Cattermole in particular was making a nuisance of himself, not allowing the Blues' midfield to function in its usual, fluent manner. Alex was booked moments later after hauling Zaki down and was later nutmegged by former Blues right back Mario Melchiott as the Latics continued to push forward.

Wigan were presented with a glorious opportunity on 17 minutes as Scharner raced through on goal after a deflected through ball from Zaki bounced behind Terry. The Latics number 7, who was playing in a role behind the Egyptian striker, burst through the exposed Chelsea ranks and into the penalty area, but his low effort was palmed away brilliantly by Petr Cech, who had more than a word to say to his defenders.

However, the big goalkeeper was grateful for the presence of Ashley Cole when he brilliantly cleared off the line, before Terry managed to clear the rebound when Cech could only parry the ball away, but the hosts replied in the style of a confident side, immediately putting pressure on their opponents.

Drogba had a brilliant shot on the turn deflected inches wide of Kirkland's goal; the Ivorian lashing goalwards from an acute angle after turning his defender excellently. John Mikel Obi hit a stinging volley after the subsequent corner was only half-cleared, but the series of chances presented to Wigan beforehand had obviously woken the home team up.

On 24 minutes, Chelsea pressure took its toll as they went ahead thanks to Terry's screamer of a volley. Lampard chipped the ball into the box, but the ball was half-cleared from danger into the path of Terry, who showed fantastic technical ability to volley home on his left foot, in almost a scissor-kick motion. It was a historic goal for the Blues skipper, and he celebrated with his wild teammates. Alex could have got himself a goal moments later but his shot at the far post was saved by Kirkland.

Anelka headed narrowly wide from a Lampard corner before the number 8 himself had an effort saved brilliantly by Kirkland, who denied the Chelsea vice-captain with a fine one-handed stop after he had broken free of the Wigan defenders. Ballack's follow-up header was cleared off the line by Titus Bramble, who was enjoying a fairly solid game at the back for the visitors. Terry could have had a second goal but his curling effort was wide with a crowd in front of him, before Drogba won a late freekick, which he subsequently fired over.

The half had ended well for the Blues, who were clearly in the ascendancy after a nervous ten minute period half-way through the first forty five minutes, and they started the second half with the same attacking vigour the had shown towards the close of play.

John Terry, who was clearly enjoying his day in Chelsea blue, demonstrated that defenders know a thing or two about trickery. First flicking the ball up, he performed a brilliant step over before shuffling the ball forward to create space for Lampard, and then back-heeling a pass between Melchiott's legs into the path of his compatriot. Drogba was later set up by the England midfielder, but Bramble denied him with an acrobatic defensive clearance after the striker had beaten Kirkland with his left footed effort.

Kalou was inches away from connecting with Lampard's low cross after Anelka had somehow fashioned a chance for a counter attack with some neat footwork, before Drogba beat two players with a clever piece of skill before seeing his shot charged down by Boyce. Kalou and Mancienne then went off to standing ovations, with Juliano Belletti and Ricardo Quaresma replacing their teammates. Belletti went to right-back and loan signing Quaresma went wide right of a midfield foursome. Lampard was pushed forward behind the effective Drogba.

But Wigan showed strong attacking play as the game came to a climax, with Scharner's header ballooning wide of the target in what was a presentable chance for the Austrian player, and Amr Zaki curled an effort a couple of feet wide of Cech's left post after fashioning himself a yard of space about 30 yards out. But it was poor defending that led to a somewhat undeserved equaliser, when Maynor Figueroa crossed for Kapo who slid the ball beyond Cech after getting in front of Brazilian centre-back Alex.

But Hiddink again came up trumps when substitute Belletti lofted a high ball into the box, which was flicked on to Ballack. Frank Lampard, so often Chelsea's match winner, stepped up to the podium with a brilliant looped header over Kirkland after out-jumping former teammate Melchiott to send Stamford Bridge crazy with celebration. Chelsea survived late Wigan pressure thanks to tackles from Mikel and Terry, and hung on to close the gap at the top of the table to seven points.


The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match award goes to...


John Terry

Chelsea: Cech; Mancienne (Quaresma), Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Ballack, Mikel, Lampard; Kalou (Belletti 76), Drogba, Anelka

Wigan: Kirkland; Melchiott ©, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa; Kapo Brown, Cattermole (Rodallega), N'Zogbia; Scharner; Zaki (Sibierski)

Lee Robert

Attendance: 40,714

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After looking back on it all, maybe Hiddink has some tactical poise that I didn't give him credit for. On the winning goal:

Belletti (a sub) crossed deep to Ballack (who played very inconsistently and had the home support all over him) who flicked on for Lampard to finish with the header. Some managers might never have put Belletti in at all and might have taken Ballack off, Hiddink knows who wants the result it seems.

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After looking back on it all, maybe Hiddink has some tactical poise that I didn't give him credit for. On the winning goal:

Belletti (a sub) crossed deep to Ballack (who played very inconsistently and had the home support all over him) who flicked on for Lampard to finish with the header. Some managers might never have put Belletti in at all and might have taken Ballack off, Hiddink knows who wants the result it seems.

Lol....I for one think, Belleti was put in the midfield as a defensive midfielder instead f Kalou. A common sub used even by Scolari.

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