Chelsea thrash Ipswich to earn brief respite

Chelsea 7 Ipswich Town 0
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The Independent Football

Chelsea could hardly have been more convincing but there was no mood for crowing afterwards. Chelsea's dismal run of late has instilled a sense of humility in the Double winners and manager Carlo Ancelotti's demeanour after the final whistle was remarkably subdued for a man who has just seen his team rattle in seven goals.

No one at the club was foolish enough to suggest this victory – over a team 19th in the Championship, who have just sacked their manager – means Chelsea's horror run has come to an end. It will take more than this mauling of poor Ipswich, who now entertain Arsenal in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday. However, there is nothing better than seeing the goals fly in, and the supporters inside Stamford Bridge sang the name of manager Ancelotti as loudly as ever.

There were also several encouraging signs in the team's display, all the more so as injury had ruled out Ashley Cole, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. The brightest performance came from 17-year-old Josh McEachran in the centre of midfield, in only his third start for the club.

Chelsea's passing has been all over the place in recent weeks but, with McEachran occupying the key playmaking role in front of the back four, Ancelotti's side rediscovered the ability to find a team-mate with the ball. The teenager looks a slight player, but he showed strength enough to hassle the opposition and rarely gave up possession.

Daniel Sturridge also showed greater energy and invention, and scored twice on his 40th appearance for the club, a milestone that triggers a payment of £500,000 to Manchester City, the club he left in 2009. A return of nine goals from those 40 games is not particularly impressive, but Sturridge is still only 21 and Ancelotti will be heartened by his scoring form.

Of far greater importance still for the club's prospects of turning their season around was the return to scoring form of midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored twice in his sixth game since returning from injury; his performances in the coming weeks may well determine how Chelsea recover from their current crisis.

Ancelotti said: "The result was good and we did a lot of things well in this game but we don't have to be excited. We have to give the same performance next week against Blackburn.

"I think everyone has a better feeling, a better sensation, after this victory. But nothing's changed. We have to keep going. We have possibilities to be competitive. Nobody's happy at the moment. We hope this moment has gone, but now we have to wait."

In the end, it proved to be men against Tractor Boys as Chelsea, aiming to become the first team since Blackburn Rovers in 1886 to win a hat-trick of FA Cups, took out their frustrations on Ipswich, who were led by caretaker manager Ian McParland.

Salomon Kalou put Chelsea ahead after 32 minutes, although all the credit must go to Nicolas Anelka, whose shot was saved by Ipswich goalkeeper Marton Fulop but was dribbling goalwards only for Kalou to make certain from a yard out. A minute later, Sturridge met Jose Bosingwa's cross with a brilliant back-heel finish, and Chelsea were away.

Carlos Edwards headed a Lampard free-kick into his own goal to leave Ipswich 3-0 down at half-time, and after the interval it did not get any better for the visitors as Anelka finished well from a tight angle and Sturridge then curled in his second as Chelsea vented the frustrations of the past few months.

They were important goals for Sturridge, whose request for a loan move has been turned down by Chelsea. Ancelotti said: "Every player has to be ready when the moment arrives. In the future he'll have opportunities. We have a lot of games in this period coming up. I think he has to fight with the other strikers, but everyone has to fight."

Ancelotti's side, who drew Everton away in the fourth round, showed no mercy for Ipswich as Lampard scored twice in the closing minutes after the result was beyond doubt. He added Chelsea's sixth when Ipswich failed to clear Gaël Kakuta's poorly hit corner, and the England midfielder scored his third goal since returning from injury when he met Branislav Ivanovic's low cross in the 79th minute.

The scoreline was particularly harsh on goalkeeper Marton Fulop, who was on duty for Sunderland last season when they lost 7-2 on this ground. The Hungarian has now let in 14 goals in two trips to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Van Aanholt (Bruma, 71); Ramires, McEachran, Lampard; Sturridge, Anelka, Kalou (Kakuta, 55).

Substitutes not used Hilario (gk), Essien, Drogba, Malouda, Ferreira.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Fulop; Brown, McAuley, O,Dea, Kennedy; Edwards, Norris, Healy, Peters; Scotland (Murray, 49), Wickham (Priskin, 64).Substitutes not used Lee-Barrett (gk), Delaney, Smith, Eastman, Civelli. Booked Norris.

Referee A D'Urso (Essex).

Possession Chelsea 60% Ipswich 40%

Shots on target Chelsea 20 Ipswich 2

Man of the match Lampard.

Match rating 7/10. Attendance 41,654.