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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent