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Lampard brace rekindles faint title hopes


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Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea

FA Premier League - Monday 7 March 2011 - Bloomfield Road


Chelsea moved within nine points of Premier League leaders Manchester United thanks to goals from Frank Lampard and captain John Terry.

It was Chelsea's talismanic skipper who opened the scoring inside the first twenty minutes as he powered home a tremendous header from Lampard's corner, whilst Jose Bosingwa and Ramires forced excellent first half saves out of Ghanaian international Richard Kingson as the Blues looked to close the gap on the league leaders, who lost 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.

Salomon Kalou then won a penalty which was comfortably slotted home by Lampard, before the England international doubled his tally with a composed finish after further creative play by his much-maligned team-mate as the champions eased into a three-goal lead around the hour mark - but on-loan Southampton winger Jason Puncheon reduced the arrears late on to offer a more respectable and balanced scoreline which at least gives some credit to the Seasiders.

The only sour note for the champions was a second half injury picked up by Didier Drogba - but with Fernando Torres continuing to gradually find his feet in Chelsea blue and Petr Cech and Ashley Cole enjoying a merited victory on their 300th and 200th appearance for the club respectively, a whole host of positives can be taken from a functional winning performance.

It was not quite the same high intensity that had seen Manchester United beaten at Stamford Bridge six days earlier, but Chelsea continued to build on a rich vein of form which has now seen them string together a hat-trick of impressive victories - largely thanks to another professional display that will offer great encouragement to a vociferous travelling faithful that equalled the vocal home supporters.

And the wonderful atmosphere inside Bloomfield Road was testament to another gutsy performance by Blackpool, who were ultimately undone only by their opponents' sheer attacking qualities. The hosts had a number of opportunities in the first half as Cech made two excellent saves to maintain Chelsea's slender advantage, and even with only stoppage time remaining with the score at 1-3, Ian Holloway's side displayed the remarkable never-say-die attitude that has endeared the club to so many.

With the North London duo of Arsenal and Tottenham drawing at the weekend, there was further opportunity for Chelsea to increase their stranglehold on fourth place as well as apply pressure on Arsene Wenger's side - and Carlo Ancelotti demonstrated his intent to attack with the 4-4-2 formation again preferred over the Blues' more traditional 4-3-3 approach. Yury Zhirkov, Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa were all given opportunities as the Blues coach made three straightforward but much-needed changes as the likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka were given well-deserved rests.

Chelsea did not boast the same slick movement and incisive passing that eventually led to their triumph over Sir Alex Ferguson's side last week, but where Blackpool is famous for its gorgeous beaches, such a playing surface at Bloomfield Road would be better suited to beach volleyball as both sides were guilty of sloppy passing as the state of the pitch threatened to undermine an attractive pre-match billing.

Undeterred, however, Chelsea soon took the lead through a tried and tested formula. Lampard's outswinging corner was met by the forehead of Terry, who from six yards powered the ball home and beyond Kingson. A captain's goal had given Chelsea a confidence-inducing lead; one that was almost doubled as Kingson flung himself to his right to palm a dipping effort from Bosingwa that looked to be creeping inside the far post.

And whilst that effort was testament to the diversity of Chelsea's attacking threat, the Blues were quite lackadaisical defensively, and lapses in concentration at the back led to timely interventions from treble-centurion Petr Cech; who first touched the ball on to the post from Jason Puncheon's drive before tipping over a looping cross-cum-shot from Neil Eardley.

The first half drew to an entertaining conclusion as Blackpool seemed to sense an opportunity, and their attacking exploits in the second half saw a continuation of the confidence they were demonstrating prior to the interval - though they rarely truly troubled Petr Cech's goal.

Much of Blackpool's pressure was coming as a result of poor Chelsea passing that was no doubt hindered by the quality of the surface - but whilst Chelsea were pussy-footing around trying to play a tedious brand of football that to Arsenal fans seems to pose some sort of compensation for six trophyless seasons, Blackpool were pressing high up the pitch and frustrating their opponents. That frustration was capped when Drogba limped off after taking a blow to the lower back, but that cloud presented a welcome silver lining as substitute Salomon Kalou twice gave Frank Lampard the chance to secure a priceless victory.

The first opportunity came as he was fouled in the box after a powerful surge into the penalty area. Ian Evatt - who scored an own goal in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge in a 4-0 hammering - again fell foul as he hacked down the Ivory Coast international. Lampard, who dispatched a spot-kick past Edwin van der Sar last Tuesday, showed nothing but a composed head as he coolly rolled the ball to Kingson's left. And Lampard's tally was doubled merely four minutes later when Kalou's trickery on the edge of the box played Lampard in - with the same inevitable result.

Kalou might have increased the lead as the game drew to a dour conclusion that betrayed the attacking endeavours of both sides since the interval, but he hooked a volley over the bar from a corner from fellow substitute Florent Malouda. Seemingly contented with a three-goal lead, Ancelotti gave Josh McEachran a first-team opportunity as the excellent Ramires gave way to the young English star-in-the-making.

That change altered the game's dynamic as Chelsea lost their midfield anchor, and Blackpool were beginning to find more space in the midfield as an unfamiliar midfield quartet was awkwardly shifted following the Brazilian's withdrawal. With Malouda operating on the left and Essien pushed to the right-hand side, the hosts soon began to find second wind and looked to at least achieve a consolation their performance certainly warranted.

And that was delivered when Jason Puncheon hammered home expertly into the bottom corner from 12 yards. The clean sheet was surrendered as Cech was left exposed, yet it was the least Blackpool deserved as the home supporters saw their team register a late consolation - and a number of half-chances that fell their way during stoppage time that came as a result of sluggish defending from the Blues nearly saw the lead reduced even further.

Goal-scoring hero at one end; John Terry was dealing in more familiar currency as his brave last-ditch tackle prevented Brett Ormerod from scoring a second for Blackpool - and whilst Alex Baptiste hooked an acrobatic effort over the crossbar, Chelsea held firm and were able to record a crucial victory that opens up some breathing space between themselves and fifth-placed Tottenham.

A win over Blackpool should not be taken lightly; especially since the Tangerines have recorded impressive three-point returns at Bloomfield Road over both Spurs and Liverpool in recent months - and with a game in hand, faint hopes of a title challenge may still be entertained by Blues fans. Afterall, 'wishful thinking' seems to be synonymous with 'football fan.'


Blackpool (4-5-1):Kingson (Halstead 66); Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Puncheon, Southern, Vaughan ©, Reid, Carney (Phillips 72); Beattie

Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry ©, Cole; Essien, Ramires (McEachran 74), Lampard, Zhirkov (Malouda 71); Drogba (Kalou 54), Torres

The TalkChelsea.net man of the match was Chelsea's number 26, JOHN TERRY

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I got this score right in my prediction :smiliecap1:

We were lucky at the end of the game in all fairness. With Puncheon scoring on 86 minutes, you had every right as a Chelsea fan to feel nervous!

Glad we got another 3 points, and 3 vital ones too!! Let's hope it's the end of our crisis now! :blue scalf:

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A win over Blackpool should not be taken lightly; especially since the Tangerines have recorded impressive three-point returns at Bloomfield Road over both Spurs and Liverpool in recent months

Plus, they always do score at least one goal in front of their own fans, no matter who the opponent is. We could easily break a new record :D You just knew they were going to score, with the sloppy play we showed towards the end of the game.

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Good review

I said at half time we needed the 2nd goal because i could not for the world see Blackpool failing to score, all in all the team performance werent brilliant but unlike the winter months weve been picking up the result. If Blackpool got another i would have shit myself.

A win against City will see us in a glorious position to consolidate 3rd then after that who knows but it wont be easy but hopefully the players will be desperate for revenge after the cafafle at the Bridge against the same opponents last season.

KTBFFH blue%20scalf.gif

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Very Lucky that we won .... Yes a win is a win, never the less!

But this not kind of performance we are used to seeing from Chelsea. Sloppy lot of time.

High for me: was change in formation and the 3rd goal, superb interplay glimpse of what we did at the start. Nothing else. Ohhh the header from Captain Courageous

I m not sure if u guys saw but there is no smoothness in our game, very less 1-to-1 and most of time we tend to break our advancement by passing it behind and start again and do the same thing ... M i the only one to feel it ? :blush:

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