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Chelsea 2-1 Portsmouth


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logo1.jpgFrank Lampard's penalty saved Chelsea's blushes as they won for the first time in five games.

The England midfielder stepped up when Chelsea were awarded a penalty ten minutes from time when Branislav Ivanovic was hacked down in the area.

Despite missing in the recent defeat to Manchester City, Lampard was calm and composed; ruthlessly dispatching the ball past the outstanding Asmir Begovic.

The hosts had gone ahead thanks to Nicolas Anelka's eighth goal of the season, but former Lyon forward Frederic Piquionne volleyed home after a fortuitous deflection from a Jamie O'Hara freekick saw the Portsmouth striker standing in front of an open goal.

Ex-Chelsea manager Avram Grant was given a warm reception on his return to the club that he led to the 2008 UEFA Champions League and Carling Cup finals, and his side gave a good account of themselves in spite of seven changes made by the manager to the team that earned a point away against Sunderland.

Carlo Ancelotti rung the changes himself; Alex was reinstated to the defence after a month's absence, and the injured Didier Drogba was replaced by compatriot Salomon Kalou.

But Chelsea's leading scorer was barely missed in an opening period the hosts comfortably bossed. Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka had early efforts go wide, and Michael Ballack was just wide of the mark with a long-range effort.

Chelsea were totally dominant and it was no surprise they took the lead after 23 minutes; Anelka sweeping home from close range after Alex had galloped forward from defence to join the attack. It was a fitting way for the Frenchman to cap a century of appearances for the Blues.

But Chelsea, for their dominance, failed to convert the necessary second goal that would make matters more comfortable, and slipped into a mode of complacency as the half drew on. Portsmouth had a good chance to equalise when Petr Cech could only parry a well struck Piquionne shot, but Hermann Hreidarsson could not control the rebound.

The Blues' lead lasted for only five minutes of the second period as the visitors drew level. A huge slice of luck was involved as O'Hara's freekick deflected straight to Piquionne, but the Frenchman's volley was sublime; comprehensively beating a stranded Cech.

It did, however, again highlight Chelsea's defensive vulnerability, and is the sixth goal conceded in three home matches for the Blues. Kevin-Prince Boateng twice had chances to give Grant's team a shock lead, but was denied by brilliant diving block by Ashley Cole, and then lost his footing with the goal gaping - despite clearly being offside.

The introduction of Joe Cole and Florent Malouda saw Chelsea change shape as Deco and Kalou - both noticeably quiet - were withdrawn. Switching to the tried-and-tested Chelsea formula of a 4-3-3, the Blues were suddenly reinvigorated by a driving run by Cole and then a snap-shot by the England man that went just wide.

Portsmouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic then made a stunning save to deny Tal Ben Haim's inadvertent flick towards his own goal to keep the South Coast team in the contest. Begovic, replacing the injured David James, had made a number of solid saves, but he was helpless as Chelsea took the lead from the penalty spot.

With eleven minutes remaining, marauding full-back Branislav Ivanovic was fouled by Marc Wilson, and Lampard made no mistake from the spot, smashing home his seventh goal of the season with confidence.

And teenage star Fabio Borini could have added to the lead after rounding Begovic following a defensive mix-up in the Portsmouth ranks, but the Italian was just wide with his angled effort.

Nevertheless Chelsea hung on to record their first win in five matches, and return to winning ways in the Premier League to open up a three point lead over Manchester United.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry ©, A Cole; Mikel; Ballack (Malouda 63), Lampard; Deco (J Cole 58); Kalou (Borini 71), Anelka

Portsmouth (4-3-2-1): Begovic; Finnan, Ben-Haim, Wilson, Hreidarsson; Diop (Hughes 59), Mokoena (Utaka 85); Mullins; Boateng, O'Hara; Piquionne.

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 2 - Branislav Ivanovic

ivan2m.jpg

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