Chelsea close gap with humbling of Pompey

Portsmouth 0 Chelsea 5

Chelsea cut Manchester United's lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to one point with an impressive 5-0 hammering of crisis club Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

A David James howler allowed Didier Drogba to tap into an empty net for Chelsea's opener before Florent Malouda grabbed two second-half goals in 10 minutes.

Drogba's neat finish and Lampard's late goal sealed the win against a Portsmouth side now one step closer to almost certain relegation.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti handed Daniel Sturridge a surprise start as the Blues looked to close the gap on United and atone for their Champions League exit to Inter Milan last week.

Sturridge replaced Nicolas Anelka in Ancelotti's starting XI, which also included Petr Cech and Ricardo Carvalho, who have both been out through injury for a month. Deco was handed his first start since February 2 while Yury Zhirkov came in for the injured Branislav Ivanovic.

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant replaced Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Nadir Belhadj with Steve Finnan and Richard Hughes, while there was no place for Aruna Dindane due to a clause in his loan agreement which would require Pompey to pay £4million to Lens if he played another game for the club.

Ancelotti described the match as a "must win" against Grant, who spent eight months at the helm at Stamford Bridge in the 2007-08 season.

Financially-stricken Portsmouth, who learned before kick off they would be allowed to sell players outside the transfer window, lined up in a defensive 4-3-2-1 formation at a rain-soaked Fratton Park.

Chelsea were the most dominant team in the early exchanges and Deco combined well with Drogba before the Ivory Coast striker fired a weak shot wide.

Drogba was in the thick of the action again soon after but he wasted a good chance by volleying well over the bar from inside the box.

Lampard thought he had put Chelsea ahead in the 10th minute but James scrambled across his line to tip the midfielder's 30-yard strike around the post.

James was once again on hand to save another Lampard shot moments later from a similar distance.

Pompey started to get a foothold on the game as the pitch cut up under the rain but found themselves 1-0 down thanks to a James howler in the 32nd minute.

The England 'keeper raced out of his box to make a routine clearance after Deco tried to play through Drogba but James completely missed the ball, leaving the Ivory Coast man to tap into an empty net.

James was left with his hands on his hips as the Chelsea fans ridiculed the stopper for his mistake.

Ancelotti was forced into a change soon after when he brought on Alex for Carvalho, who went off clutching his ankle.

The game came close to boiling point soon after when Pompey full back Ricardo Rocha had to be carried off after colliding with Malouda.

Malouda then squared up to Hermann Hreidarsson, who claimed the Frenchman had used his elbow in the challenge, before being booked by referee Lee Mason.

Rocha, meanwhile, was carried off on a stretcher after a four-minute stoppage while wearing an oxygen mask.

Pompey's troubles worsened when Tommy Smith hobbled off after the half-time whistle.

Smith failed to emerge after half time and was replaced by Quincy, whose clever ball into the box failed to find a team-mate soon after the break.

After his booking, Malouda was booed every time he touched the ball and he soon plunged the Pompey fans into further misery when he picked up Lampard's pass and beat James from a tight angle to make it 2-0.

Joe Cole, who had voiced his frustration at his lack of first-team action earlier this week, replaced the ineffective Sturridge in the 53rd minute.

The midfielder made an immediate impact, drawing a good save from James after a clever through ball from Lampard.

Malouda then scored his second of the night when he reacted first to James' save from Lampard's shot to coolly slot the ball home to make it 3-0.

James then pulled off a flying save to deny Lampard from 20 yards as Chelsea looked to turn the screw.

Kanu replaced Mokoena with 15 minutes left in a desperate attempt to inject some life into the Pompey attack, who were being well marshalled by John Terry and Alex.

Drogba was then played in by John Obi Mikel and the striker held his nerve to slot past James from inside the box to make it 4-0.

Portsmouth then had a golden chance to pull one back but Hughes somehow put a free header from five yards out wide.

Frederic Piquionne then beat two Chelsea defenders down the right but Kanu blazed over from eight yards out.

Second half substitute Patrick Van Aanholt then squared the ball to Drogba but he just missed out on his third by firing over.

Lampard completed Pompey's misery when he finished from Drogba's knock down in the dying minutes to make it 5-0.

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