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Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn


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Chelsea F.C. 2-0 Blackburn Rovers

Sunday 17th May 2009, Premier League, Stamford Bridge, West London

Nigerian international John Mikel Obi holds off Carlos Villanueva at Stamford Bridge.

Nicolas Anelka netted his 24th goal of the season as Chelsea overcame Blackburn in Guus Hiddink's last game at Stamford Bridge.

'We want you to stay,' sung Stamford Bridge as the Dutch tactician thanked the players and fans for the support he had received during his tenure as Blues boss. Roman Abramovich will have no doubt heard the chants of the Shed End faithful as they pleaded with the Russian owner to persuade the former PSV Eindhoven coach to stay as the manager of Chelsea Football Club. But following a lap of appreciation, flanked by the players and their nimble-footed children, Hiddink left the dug-out for what will prove to be the last time at Stamford Bridge. Led by John Terry, the players appropriately formed a guard of honour for the emotional Russian national team manager, joined by legendary trophy-winning captains Roy Bentley, Ron Harris and Dennis Wise - the former celebrating his 85th birthday in front of a jubilant Matthew Harding Stand.

But before the adoring fans could celebrate the achievements of the players, the small matter of Blackburn Rovers required attention and focus. It took the Blues as long as the fourth minute to open the scoring when Florent Malouda powered home a ferocious header from Nicolas Anelka's cross, before the French striker himself lashed home an effort from the edge of the area to secure the points.

After the brilliant demolition of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium the previous weekend, Guus Hiddink elected to field the same eleven that started against Arsene Wenger's side. Michael Ballack missed out due to illness, but there was a place on the bench for Scott Sinclair, who had helped Birmingham City clinch promotion to the Premier League.

Petr Cech was involved early on, as he made a relatively comfortable save from Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Blackburn and Norwegian winger had cut inside his marker and powered a right-footed drive from 16 yards, but Cech's handling was assured and the chance came to nothing. Cech then launched a throw downfield to Malouda as the Blues looked to counter-attack, but Gael Givet brilliantly denied Frank Lampard his 20th goal of the season when he slid in to block the England midfielder's effort.

However, Florent Malouda made no mistake when he headed home Anelka's cross after four minutes. A lightning-quick counter attack saw Bosingwa split the Blackburn defence with a driving run from deep, before passing to Anelka who was hugging the far touchline. The Frenchman's cross was inch-perfect and Malouda finished with aplomb to net his ninth goal of the season and his third in three matches.

With nine minutes gone, Chelsea were looking dominant, and Rovers were finding it hard to get out of their own half despite their promising early start. Anelka had a shot saved by Paul Robinson's leg when picked out by Ashley Cole, although the Chelsea number 39 should have found the net with his close range effort. Lampard then rattled the crossbar from 16 yards only moments after sliding in excellently to deny Vince Grella the opportunity to shoot. It was an all-action start at Stamford Bridge.

Anelka then supplied another telling ball as Ashley Cole's effort rolled off his shin, allowing Robinson to save. Chelsea were rampant and Anelka's creativity down the left flank was second to none. At the heart of the Blues midfield, Essien and Mikel were enjoying typically imperious performances, with Essien flashing a shot wide after a decent surge forward. Moments later, Malouda had a shot cleared off the line after he had beat Keith Andrews and Paul Robinson to the ball, but Ryan Nelsen made a brilliant goalline clearance to hack the ball away.

Cech then saved from Pedersen before Essien was the recipient of a horror tackle from Grella, who found nothing but the Ghanaian's midriff with a full set of studs. Christopher Samba headed over from a decent position as Blackburn continued to concede possession and territory.

The second half was a relatively quiet affair to begin with - a huge difference to the pulse-pounding opening to the first 45 minutes. On 52 minutes, Frank Lampard crossed low to the far post to Malouda, who could only direct the ball into the arms of Paul Robinson as he attempted to slide the ball home from an acute angle, but it was no more than a half-chance for the influential winger. The Blues were denied a clear penalty when Andrews pulled back Ashley Cole as the Chelsea fullback tried to connect with a cross from out wide, but no spot kick was awarded.

Didier Drogba, who had earlier toed a shot wide from a difficult angle, then teed up Anelka to fire home for his third goal in two games against Blackburn Rovers this season, and it was a goal of simple magnificence. Cole crossed into the area for Malouda, who missed his overhead kick. Fortunately the ball fell to Drogba, who touched the ball into Anelka's path, who made Blackburn pay for their inability to clear the ball with an unerring finish. Anelka then reversed the scenario but Drogba could not match his strike partner's shot, and blazed over the crossbar at the Matthew Harding End.

Robinson then denied Lampard by pushing the ball away from the Chelsea vice-captain as he broke into the area, before Anelka volleyed wide on 74 minutes following good work from Malouda and Drogba. With seven goals between the striking triumvirate in three matches, the Blues attack is looking as potent as ever, and the same combination combined late on as Chelsea played out much of the remaining quarter of an hour without incident.

During that period, Tugay had Blackburn's best chance, but Cech was equal to his well-struck volley with a smart piece of goalkeeping, before Robinson saved twice in quick succession by denying Malouda a goal after the Frenchman had shot from an outrageous angle, before Anelka's follow-up was palmed away by the man who the Shed End had labelled as 'England's number six.'

Michael Essien then forced a very good save out of the Blackburn goalkeeper, who had enjoyed a good performance at Stamford Bridge. Nevertheless, his efforts were in vain as Chelsea completed a convincing and impressive victory over Sam Allardyce's side. With Sunderland next up at the Stadium of Light before a trip to Wembley, Guus Hiddink's legacy at this club is still very much only pencilled in.


The TalkChelsea.net Star Man award goes to...


Michael Essien, Chelsea F.C.

Energetic and lively, the Ghanaian midfielder put in a tremendous athletic display at the heart of the Chelsea midfield.

Match Fact - Chelsea have now kept six successive clean sheets against Blackburn in the Premier League, claiming 16 points from a possible 18 in the process.

Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Mikel, Essien; Anelka, Lampard, Malouda; Drogba

Blackburn: Robinson; Andrews, Nelsen © (Doran), Givet (Khizanishvili), Warnock; Diouf, Tugay, Grella, Villanueva, Pedersen (McCarthy); Samba
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