Chelsea end winless run against Bolton

Chelsea 3 Bolton 0

Andre Villas-Boas enjoyed some much-needed respite in front of Roman Abramovich today as Chelsea stopped the rot to return to the Barclays Premier League top four.

The Blues looked every inch a side that had failed to win any of their previous five games in another dire first half against Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

But they turned on the style after the break, defender David Luiz doing what he does best by firing them ahead before Didier Drogba and the recalled Frank Lampard sealed a desperately-needed three points.

Chelsea also hit the woodwork twice as Bolton's first-half solidity deserted them to leave them second bottom of the table.

Villas-Boas recalled Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien, who were controversially left out of Tuesday night's Champions League defeat at Napoli, sparking further reports of dressing-room unrest.

The Chelsea boss stood by his Naples line-up, insisting it was picked purely on footballing reasons, but he admitted on Thursday he was forced to explain it to owner Abramovich.

That merely fuelled speculation Villas-Boas was on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge, with the club's season in danger of unravelling completely. But today's opponents might have been hand picked for the home side, with Bolton enduring an even more miserable campaign.

Chelsea certainly made the more impressive start, Daniel Sturridge testing Adam Bogdan inside five minutes after a burst from the halfway line before finding Lampard with a superb through ball, the midfielder just failing to shake off his marker.

Drogba also had a couple of sniffs but the lack of confidence that has dogged the Blues' play of late was soon evident as they struggled to fashion a meaningful opportunity.

Abramovich, attending his first game since the 3-3 draw against Manchester United three weeks earlier, looked on pensively as well-drilled Bolton continued to frustrate his expensively-assembled side.

They finally had Bogdan at full stretch in the 29th minute when he palmed away Drogba's left-foot curler, while David Wheater had to be alert to stop Sturridge finishing Luiz's raking pass.

Chelsea were only really looking dangerous on the break and their half was summed up when Branislav Ivanovic and Drogba ran into each other running onto Lampard's inviting ball.

Bolton were even less of a threat and Darren Pratley - making his first league start for more than two months - was booked for an obvious dive trying to win a penalty before Ryo Miyaichi had their first real effort when he fired over on the stroke of half-time.

Chelsea were in dire need of inspiration and it arrived less than three minutes after the restart.

Luiz - clearly under orders to rampage forward - won the ball high up the pitch, carried on his run forward and profited when Wheater failed to clear, curling a lovely finish beyond Bogdan.

The celebrations were hardly raucous, with the nervousness of a side that had kept only two clean sheets at home in the league all season quickly apparent when Nigel Reo-Coker drilled wide from the edge of the box.

That almost subsided when Chelsea then hit the woodwork twice inside two minutes, Luiz's header from a corner glancing the post before Drogba curled Juan Mata's pass against the top of the crossbar after another breakaway.

There was no stopping the striker in the 61st minute when he shook off Fabrice Muamba to nod in Lampard's corner, the midfielder significantly taking the plaudits as the home fans sang "super Frankie Lampard".

It should have been 3-0 when Ivanovic finished weakly after Essien's drive was parried by Bogdan before Bolton threw on Marvin Sordell for David Ngog.

The change had little effect and Chris Eagles soon joined Sordell, with Tuncay Sanli coming off, before Chelsea suffered a blow when Drogba limped off to be replaced by Fernando Torres for the last 14 minutes.

A goal arrived three minutes later, but it was Lampard who got it, stealing in at the back post to cushion Mata's cross past Bogdan for his 12th goal of the season.

Sturridge then came off for Salomon Kalou, Torres - axed by Spain yesterday - curled over from a tight angle with his only chance and John Obi Mikel replaced Ramires.

Kalou almost nodded in number four in stoppage-time as Chelsea enjoyed a rare trouble-free final 10 minutes.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy