Malouda lifts cloud hanging over Ancelotti

Chelsea 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

It was the narrowest, most nerve-racking of victories but for Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea's win last night looked just about enough for him to appease his exacting Russian master.

It took a controversial goal that Owen Coyle said should not have stood, it required a certain good fortune in their own penalty area but Chelsea have finally won their first Premier League game since 10 November. Ancelotti can only hope that somewhere in the Caribbean, Roman Abramovich considers a tight win over Bolton Wanderers as an acceptable result.

The game turned on a very tight decision by World Cup linesman Darren Cann who ruled that Didier Drogba was not off-side when Michael Essien played him through on goal on the hour to cross for Florent Malouda to score. "Ultimately, we've been done with a huge decision that I believe was off-side," said Coyle who, like most in the stadium, had not had the benefit of a replay.

In real time, Drogba looked onside and it should be said that Cann is the best in the business when it comes to the tough calls. His mistakes are rare although there was one in Bolton's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic in October in the build-up to Hugo Rodallega's goal and Coyle had not forgotten it.

Coyle said "I've just seen it [last night's decision] in real time. But if I'm wrong, I'd be the first to hold my hands up. I know who he [Cann] is because I had him earlier in the season at Wigan and their goal was clearly offside. There you go. He is a fantastic official."

For Chelsea the details did not matter, it was enough that they moved back to fourth place and, for all those dreadful results this month, they are just four points off the leaders Manchester United, who have played one game fewer. Most importantly it lifts the cloud over Ancelotti who has looked like a man tap-dancing on the brink for some time.

Booed off at half-time by some elements in the crowd – more frustration than derision – Ancelotti's players showed great character to turn the game around. Drogba hit the post four minutes after half-time and rather than that moment derailing Chelsea, it proved the stepping stone to their win.

Ancelotti acknowledged that his team are a long way from their best. "We know the game was not easy. We needed to fight the long ball, we did very well to control [Kevin] Davies and [Johan] Elmander. We lost some passes in the first half. We were a little bit afraid but this is normal because there was pressure in this game. The second half was better.

"It is normal [to be nervous] when the moment is not good. It is impossible to stay calm. If you are a little bit nervous, you have motivation to win the game. We are not at our best: the best condition, the best confidence, the best atmosphere. We can improve. We have to improve and I hope 2011 will be the same as 2010 [in terms of trophies]."

In the first half, the nerves showed. The nadir was a dreadful free-kick hit by Drogba that was so off target it did not even go out for a goal-kick. Nicolas Anelka, back in the side having missed the Arsenal game, could not get in the game.

Coyle's team had the better chances in the first half. Then after the break Frank Lampard threaded a beauty of a ball through to Drogba on the right and his shot hit the post. In the build-up to the goal, Essien bulldozed through Elmander and Stuart Holden before splitting the Bolton defence with a pass. It was a very marginal decision to call Drogba onside but it looked right. He crossed to Malouda to score.

Holden had a shot against John Terry's arm which would have been a very harsh penalty. Coyle thought it was. "I was here last year and we had two stonewall penalties. I think one of them, Didier Drogba was playing volleyball with it so I certainly wasn't going to get that one [last night]."

Holden had a header tipped over by Cech. The goalkeeper dropped the subsequent corner and Drogba dribbled Elmander's shot off the line. Dramatic stuff, but not half as dramatic for Chelsea as it could have been had they not won this game.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Ferreira, 90), Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard; Anelka (Kalou, 90), Drogba, Malouda. Substitutes not used Turnbull (gk), Van Aanholt, Bruma, Kakuta, McEachran.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Moreno (Klasnic, 72), Muamba, Holden (M Davies, 82), Taylor (Petrov, 78); K Davies, Elmander. Substitutes not used Bogdan (gk), Blake, Alonso.

Referee M Jones (Cheshire)

Attendance 40,982.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn