x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Chelsea crush Blackburn

The Blues give Carlo Ancelotti a perfect tonic as they soared back to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea gave Carlo Ancelotti a perfect tonic as they soared back to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Blackburn at Stamford Bridge. Ancelotti, back in the dugout after visiting his seriously ill father in Italy in midweek, watched his side produce a fabulous performance against ragged Rovers to go two points clear at the summit. Chelsea destroyed Sam Allardyce's side with two goals from Frank Lampard, one a penalty, plus others from Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and an own goal from Gael Givet. The game was so one-sided that had Chelsea taken all their first half chances, the scoreline could have been in double figures. But four goals in a 15-minute second half spell handed Rovers their biggest defeat since Allardyce took charge at Ewood Park and kept Ancelotti's 100 per cent home record intact. Joe Cole, making his first start since January, should have opened the scoring for Chelsea within the opening minute but he somehow headed a cross from Lampard wide of the target from six yards. But Chelsea broke the deadlock in the 20th minute with a goal of classic simplicity. A Blackburn attack broke down allowing Michael Ballack to collect the ball in midfield. The Germany captain fed Nicolas Anelka on the left flank with a superb low pass and when the France international crossed the ball into the six-yard box, it was turned past his own goalkeeper by the unfortunate Givet. Blackburn had to rely on counter-attacks and in the 25th minute they almost grabbed an equaliser but Morten Gamst Pedersen's 20-yard effort flashed wide of Petr Cech's right-hand post. In the 33rd minute, Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson came to their rescue when Lampard fed Anelka inside the penalty area. A second goal seemed on the cards but Anelka's shot hit Robinson in the chest, much to the frustration of Ancelotti. Chelsea, somewhat predictably, went further in front in the 48th minute through Lampard. The England midfielder scored his first goal in open play in the top flight since April when he finished off a fine Chelsea move. Essien sent Drogba racing into the penalty area and his cross was only half cleared by Lars Jacobsen, leaving Lampard to pick his spot from eight yards. It was 3-0 in the 51st minute when Essien sent a 35-yard shot thundering beyond the despairing dive of Robinson. It got worse for Rovers in the 58th minute when Ryan Nelsen brought down Drogba inside the penalty area and Lampard converted the spot-kick for his second of the game. Drogba underlined Chelsea's superiority in the 63rd minute when he rose highest to head home a corner by Lampard to make it 5-0. It was the Ivory Coast international's eighth goal of the season. Cole was then replaced by Daniel Sturridge, making his home league debut, in the 76th minute. Cole received a standing ovation from the fans and a bear hug from Ancelotti. The England midfielder had shown he was back to his best during an afternoon when Chelsea returned to top form.