Kalou's killer instinct cures Chelsea blues

Chelsea 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0: Ancelotti blames trip to Moscow for lacklustre display as only poor finishing lets down Wolves

Anyone investing even a modest sum on Wolverhampton Wanderers to win here at something around 20-1 would have received an unexpectedly good run for their money. It was tighter than many a fixture between League leaders and those down among the dead men at the bottom, without in the end even denting Chelsea's extraordinary home record. Like all Premier League visitors since Aston Villa last March, Wolves failed to score, but few if any can have had more opportunities to do so. A finish was simply not there, bringing to mind last season's feeble total of 32 goals, the worst of any team.

Steven Fletcher, bought from Burnley in the summer, has been hired to help Kevin Doyle in attack but Fletcher and the heavyweight – in every sense – Sylvan Ebanks-Blake did not appear until the last four minutes, when Salomon Kalou's goal had made the game safe for Chelsea, sending them five points clear of Manchester City who meet Arsenal today. Florent Malouda had scored the first, although even that was bookmarked by half-chances, and sometimes better at the other end.

Matt Jarvis, a young winger highly regarded and watched by Fabio Capello's lieutenant Franco Baldini, found Ashley Cole a meaner opponent than most he normally meets, and was replaced before the end. Meanwhile, the danger of pushing forward, Wolves discovered, was exposure to counter-attacks of pace and verve, which nevertheless tended to break down despite the return of Didier Drogba to the home attack.

"It is important to win when you are not 100 per cent," Chelsea's manager Carlo Ancelotti said, acknowledging that his team were a good few percentage points below that. "It was a difficult week because of the travelto Moscow. Our position is good, but tomorrow Manchester City can be two points behind."

For Wolves, Mick McCarthy had reason to be pleased with the performance against the side he rates as "the best in the League", while bemoaning a lack of "devilment" in front of goal. The visitors managed half a dozen reasonable chances in the first half alone. Almost all, however, were directed at Petr Cech and too many were weak headers, notably by Dave Edwards, Doyle and Jelle van Damme. The last of those, midway through the half, was heavily punished when Chelsea immediately broke to score. Nicolas Anelka led the counter, feeding Yuri Zhirkov, who from the byline cut the ball back across goal for Malouda to drive in his seventh goal of the season.

Other than that, and Anelka's shot into the side-netting after an equallyquick break out of defence, the most likely Chelsea scorer for a long time was the improbable figure of Jose Bosingwa. Returning to start a game for the first time in a year since his serious knee injury at Villa Park, the Portuguese full-back forced two good low saves from Marcus Hahnemann, the goalkeeper using his foot each time to concede a corner.

Hahnemann, an extrovert American, is clearly proud of his footwork; later he would tackle Drogba outside the penalty area when the striker was clean through on to Branislav Ivanovic's immaculate pass. Stephen Hunt, still reviled here for the incident at Reading four years ago that caused Cech a nasty head injury, appeared as a substitute and pantomime villain for the second half and almost stunned his abusers with a goal inside two minutes. One of the numerous Wolves corners fell nicelyfor him to aim a diving header which would have crept inside the far post had Michael Essien not blocked it.

Kalou, in gloves for autumn, replaced Malouda and when Chelsea used his flank for a more coherent move a fine goal resulted. The substitute started it all with a pass inside to Drogba and kept running as the Ivorian fed Essien, whose pass was perfectly placed and weighted for Kalou to slip past the goalkeeper.

Attendance: 41,752

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: Bosingwa

Match rating: 6/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing