Malouda strike just enough for Chelsea

Chelsea 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

It ugly, scrappy and lucky, but Chelsea will not care one jot as they ended their worst Barclays Premier League run for more than a decade by beating Bolton tonight.

Florent Malouda scored his first league goal for more than two months to send the faltering champions back into the top four and ease the pressure on manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Didier Drogba also hit the post but was forced to clear off the line as Bolton had more than enough chances to snatch a point.

Chelsea's first league win in seven lifted them back to within four points of leaders Manchester United, who have a game in hand.

Despite his side having thrown away a five-point lead in the last two months, Ancelotti retained the backing of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich ahead of tonight's game.

The Russian would not have liked what he saw from his Caribbean retreat as the Blues struggled to string two passes together in a miserable first half at a sodden Stamford Bridge.

They did not manage a single shot on target and of the two they did muster, one of them was a Drogba free-kick that embarrassingly screwed out for a throw-in.

Bolton were typically combative and John Terry needed to produce a desperate challenge to prevent Kevin Davies stealing in, while Matthew Taylor drilled wide after latching onto the recalled Jose Bosingwa's attempted clearance.

Branislav Ivanovic was booked for felling Johan Elmander and Chelsea's frustration increased as captain Terry harangued referee Michael Jones after the official elected not show Paul Robinson a yellow card for a foul on Michael Essien.

Taylor sent a sweet left-foot curler narrowly over as Bolton continued to look the more threatening and there was more bad news for the home side when Drogba began limping.

The striker played on as Chelsea began to wrest a semblance of control and Taylor was booked after clattering into Ramires.

But the home side were not even close to a goal before being booed off by some of their fans at half-time.

They looked no better in the opening four minutes of the second half until, out of nowhere, Frank Lampard produced a wonderful defence-splitting pass for Drogba, whose finish hit the inside of the far post and was cleared to safety.

Chelsea suddenly looked a different side and Nicolas Anelka was flagged narrowly offside racing onto Ramires' through ball before they finally put together a sweeping passing move that ended with a tame Essien finish.

The pressure finally told in the 61st minute when Essien released Drogba down the right and the striker squared for Malouda to tap home his first league goal since October.

The jubilant celebrations from both fans and players told their own story but Chelsea's confidence remained fragile and Sam Ricketts blazed over from 12 yards as Bolton hit back.

Stuart Holden then had a handball appeal turned down after smashing a shot at Terry inside the box.

Sensing blood, visiting boss Owen Coyle withdrew Rodrigo Moreno - impressive on his full Premier League debut - for Ivan Klasnic after his side were awarded a free-kick.

Gary Cahill - a reported January target for Chelsea - immediately headed Taylor's centre wide.

Bolton went even closer when Elmander's cross was met by a bullet header from Holden, forcing a wonderful tip over from Petr Cech.

The goalkeeper made a hash of the resulting corner and was grateful to Drogba on the line for clearing the danger.

At the other end, Essien thought he had bundled the ball over the line in between Bolton's final two substitutions but the flag had already gone up.

Malouda was denied twice by Jussi Jaaskelainen late on before Ancelotti ran down the clock by introducing Salomon Kalou and Paulo Ferreira in the closing seconds.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
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

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride