Lampard's landmark return restores pride

Chelsea 3 Bolton Wanderers 0: Captain inspires Chelsea to victory with senior servants recalled to line-up

Stamford Bridge

A laboured win over a team in the bottom three is not exactly cause for an open-top parade but in their present predicament Chelsea and Andre Villas-Boas will take anything going. Mindful perhaps that Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked after a goalless draw at home to Hull three years ago this month, the suffering manager combined delight and relief at a first victory in six games.

It put his team three points ahead of Arsenal and seven behind third-placed Tottenham before the north London pair meet today. Clearly, only two of the capital's three principal clubs can make the Champions' League places, but Chelsea still have both of the others to play.

In front of Roman Abramovich, who had demanded to know the thinking behind team selection for the 3-1 defeat by Napoli in midweek, Villas-Boas restored Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien, and was rewarded by Lampard in particular. Whatever his motivation – bloody-mindedness or simply professional pride – Lampard took hold of the captain's armband and then the game, making one goal before scoring his 150th in League football.

When Bolton, who have never recovered from a dreadful finish to last season, concede the first goal, they lose. That did not mean that Chelsea could relax after David Luiz seized the lead soon after half-time, but they could once Didier Drogba headed in Lampard's corner. By the end the home crowd, who had been initially supportive, then had their senses dulled in a soporific first half, were quite perky again.

So was their manager, who said: "The pressure has been on the team to get a result and the most important thing for us is to build from this day onwards. It's an important day because it can be the start to get our form right." He insisted that bringing back the senior players so soon after conveying his thoughts on the matter to the owner was "a coincidence" and dismissed the other conspiracy theory that he would soon be taking over from a former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri at Internazionale by saying: "There isn't a vacancy there and neither am I looking for a job. I'm looking forward to next year's project here."

Bolton must now get through a visit to Manchester City on Saturday, then pick up points against three other teams in the bottom five, Queens Park Rangers, Blackburn and Wolves. Their manager, Owen Coyle, was understandably annoyed with the manner of conceding the goals, all of which illustrated the sort of poor defending that has undermined the team for much of the season. "Knowing they'd be a bit down in confidence, we worked hard, but goals change games," Coyle said.

The visitors' defence was rent asunder twice in the opening few minutes, only for Daniel Sturridge to shoot straight at the goalkeeper, Adam Bogdan, and Lampard to be forced wide and earn only a corner. For the rest of the first half, however, Bolton did much better – or Chelsea did worse – and chances were strictly limited. The crucial period was therefore the first quarter of an hour after the interval. In the 48th minute, Bolton surrendered possession to David Luiz, who fed Drogba and was well placed to receive the rebound from his cross, curling a drive just inside the far post.

Coyle's anger at the second goal was directed at the marking that allowed Drogba a free header from Lampard's corner to nod in his 100th goal for the club. In between times, David Luiz sent a header against a post and Drogba's shot clipped the crossbar. There was no way back for Bolton, who had nothing to offer other than an occasional speedy run by the Arsenal loanee Ryo Miyaichi and they conceded again when Lampard was allowed to steal in unmarked to the far post and volley in Juan Mata's cross with the side of his foot.

When Drogba limped off, FernandoTorres must surely have thought his time had come to exploit such a generous defence and claim a first goal in 23 appearances for club and country (Spain have just dropped him for the first time). Not everything is yet rosy in the Chelsea garden, however. His only shot flew high over the bar and at the final whistle he was straight down the tunnel without a glance at the crowd, body language indicating a total lack of confidence. Lampard, meanwhile, milked the applause from all four sides of the ground in a personal lap of honour. He deserved it.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Ramires (Mikel, 88), Essien, Lampard; Sturridge (Kalou, 80), Drogba (Torres, 76), Mata.

Bolton (4-4-1-1): Bogdan; Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts; Tuncay (Eagles, 75), Muamba, Reo-Coker, Miyaichi; Pratley; Ngog (Sordell, 65).

Referee Michael Oliver.

Man of the match Lampard (Chelsea).

Match rating 6/10.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'