Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Blues Keeps Title Hopes Alive by Thrashing Pompe's (Chelsea 5-0 Portsmouth)


Chelsea moved into second place in the Premier League and to within one point of leaders Manchester United with an emphatic win at bottom club Portsmouth.
After a low-key start, Didier Drogba rolled the ball into an empty net after David James kicked at thin air.
Florent Malouda slammed in a second before following up Frank Lampard's saved shot to slot in a third.
Drogba outmuscled Steve Finnan and fired in at the near post before Lampard headed in an injury-time fifth.
It took them a while to hit their stride but when once they did, Chelsea imposed themselves on the game in a manner that has eluded them, to costly ends, in recent matches.

Ancelotti 'satisfied' after 5-0 win

The visitors' victory was thoroughly deserved but initially owed to a moment that was part misfortune and part mistake.
James has already demonstrated his generosity this week by reportedly being a leading figure in a group of Pompey players who have agreed to cover the wages of four club staff members, who would otherwise have been laid off as part of the administration-enforced cost-cutting measures at Fratton Park.
Unfortunately for Pompey, their 39-year-old England stopper carried such benevolence into his performance and gifted the visitors the lead in the 32nd minute.
After an uneventful opening, Chelsea launched an innocuous-looking attack with Deco heading on a ball that hugely favoured the home keeper, but when James's kick met air instead of ball due to a large bobble off the turf, Drogba was able to run on and slot into the unguarded net.
Barring a 30-yard drive from Lampard which James tipped past the post it was the only real chance of a first-half which was characterised more by bad blood than free-flowing football.
Not long after the goal, Malouda was involved in an aerial challenge with Ricardo Rocha which saw the Pompey defender stretchered from the field with a suspected fractured cheekbone to a chorus of boos aimed at the Chelsea winger for his perceived aggression.
Not long after, Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge drew blood from the nose of Pompey's Tommy Smith with a trailing arm leading to the withdrawal of the bloodied striker and further anger both on the pitch and off it.
Malouda may have left the field to a chorus of vitriol at half-time but he and his team-mates returned to torment the home side with a superb second-half display.
Five minutes after the break, Lampard's chipped through-ball found the Frenchman, who beat the offside trap on the left and bore down on goal before rifling his shot past James and into the roof of the net from a tight-angle.
Ten minutes later he doubled his tally, following up Lampard's initial shot - well blocked by James - to once again fire a rasping shot high into the net.
James had done his utmost to prevent the visitors extending their lead further with strong saves from shots by Lampard and substitute Joe Cole.
But he was left to rue the fragility of the defence in front of him when Jon Mikel Obi's long ball was chested down by Drogba, who then held off Finnan and fired in at the near post.

Portsmouth coach downbeat

Drogba should have made it five himself minutes later but the Ivory Coast striker made a hash of a stretching finish from six yards out following a cross from substitute Patrick Van Aanholt.
In injury time, Lampard did add the fifth, heading in after Drogba had nodded down Cole's high left-wing cross to give Chelsea the added bonus of drawing level on goal difference with Manchester United.
As for the home side, they may be able to sell players following unprecedented permission from the Football Association to undertake transfers outside the window to ease their financial burden, but they could not buy a goal here.
Their night was summed up when Jamie O'Hara's cross was nodded down by Frederic Piquionne to the unmarked Richard Hughes, but he put his header from eight yards inexplicably past the post.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti:
"We'd lost some confidence in our play in the last few weeks, but we played well here. This performance will improve our confidence.
"We are involved in the Premier League and the FA Cup, so maybe eight or nine games until the end of the season, so we need to maintain this period and this spirit to play.
"We have to prepare for these remaining games like they are finals. It won't be easy, but it's important to stay involved in the Premier League."
Portsmouth assistant manager Perry Groves on Ricardo Rocha:
"Ricardo has gone to hospital to see how bad the damage is and [manager] Avram [Grant] has gone with him.
"Ricardo may not play again this season. I thought the challenge merited a yellow card but I only had half an eye on the incident when it happened.
"There's not too many fit players left in our squad. [But] there's always been a fantastic spirit amongst them and they'll always grind out results for you

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