x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bolton wilt as Chelsea pile on pressure

Having worryingly gone eight games without a goal at the start of the season, Frank Lampard is making up for lost time.

BOLTON // Having worryingly gone eight games without a goal at the start of the season, Frank Lampard is making up for lost time. The midfielder made it four in three games with a penalty opener yesterday to help leaders Chelsea end worries about their away form after successive defeats. Bolton, who had Jlloyd Samuel sent off, were constantly exposed and the imaginative Deco, a Bolton own goal and a late strike by Didier Drogba rounded off an impressive victory.

There were 13 changes on both sides from Bolton's 4-0 Carling Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge midweek, but the final scoreline was identical. Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong swung over an early cross from the left and Johan Elmander towered above the defence, but steered his header over. Chelsea responded with the intelligent and incisive counter attacks that have become their trademark this season. Nicolas Anelka stung the fingers of Jussi Jaaskelainen in the 14th minute with a fierce drive that was arrowing into the corner of the net. From the corner, the Bolton keeper stretched out to palm the ball away after Drogba's header had ricocheted off Gary Cahill. Still the pressure was not off as Michael Essien fired over from 25 yards. .

Cahill's displays at the back for Bolton have seen him become a contender for England's World Cup finals squad. The challenge of Drogba served as a valuable lesson of what he needs to do to handle the world's best. The Chelsea striker hustled and harried him into a mistake in the 21st minute, but again Jaaske- lainen reacted quickly to block. Chances followed at both ends, with Branislav Ivanovic having an effort ruled out for offside against Michael Ballack, and Kevin Davies lashing a drive inches wide.

But with just a minute of first-half stoppage time left, Bolton could not hold out. Drogba raced through on goal, but was clipped from behind by Samuel. He was sent off and Lampard calmly sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way with the penalty. It was his eighth career goal against Bolton and number nine almost followed in the 57th minute following a clever free-kick routine. Deco rolled the ball to Essien, who dummied for Lampard to let fly from 20 yards. The ball thudded off the underside of the bar.

The Finnish keeper had been outstanding in trying to keep the score down. His duel with Drogba fascinating as three times in the opening 11 minutes of the second half, he denied the Ivorian with fine reactions. But he was helpless in the 61st minute when Anelka broke with pace and released Deco, who coolly stepped inside Paul Robinson and curled the ball into the net. Bolton went 3-0 behind in the 83rd when Zat Knight diverted the ball past his own keeper, and Lampard's back-heel teed up Drogba to slide in the fourth in the first minute of injury time.

akhan@thenational.ae