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Premier League

  • 23 October 2010
  • • 15:00
  • • Stamford Bridge, London
  • Referee: L. Probert
  • • Attendance: 41752

Chelsea 2-0 Wolves: Malouda and Kalou on target as Ancelotti's charges move five points clear in title race

Chelsea 2-0 Wolves: Malouda and Kalou on target as Ancelotti's charges move five points clear in title race

Visitors without a win since opening day

Chelsea scored twice against Wolverhampton Wanderers to surge ahead in the Premier League title race and go five points clear at the top of the table.

A strike from Florent Malouda saw the hosts draw first blood, and substitute Salomon Kalou's coolly taken shot doubled the lead as the title holders took three points on the day.

Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti was handed a boost as striker Didier Drogba returned to the line-up, having missed the last two games owing to a virus. But Ramires - who was slated as a doubt - did not recover from his ankle injury in time to make this game. Alex, Yossi Benayoun and Frank Lampard remained sidelined with their respective injuries.

For the away side, manager Mick McCarthy was without defender Jody Craddock, who was unable to participate owing to a hip injury. Stephen Hunt was a doubt, but the winger managed to earn a spot on the bench. Meanwhile, Adlene Guedioura and Ronald Zubar were out with injuries, while Michael Mancienne was unavailable to feature against his parent club.

So began a game with Wolves looking for their first victory since the opening day of the season, as the hosts looked to further their ambition of retaining the Premier League title.

The Blues began in a rather sluggish manner, with no real purpose going forward as McCarthy's charges were in no real trouble during the early stages. But they soon found their footing as full-back Jose Bosingwa fired a low shot from the right, but goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was equal to it as he tipped the ball away.

The visitors were showing some attacking intent, but were leaving their defence slightly exposed as they pushed forward. This was all that Ancelotti's charges needed to break the deadlock, as Nicolas Anelka calmly opened the defence as he sent the ball to Yury Zhirkov, who played a lovely little reverse pass to set up Malouda for a good finish down the centre of goal.

A little past 30 minutes, Wolves were unable to capitalise on a defensive error from skipper John Terry, as midfielder Nenad Milijas decided to be selfish and send in a poor shot straight to Cech, instead of playing it to Matt Jarvis, who appeared to be through on goal.

The hosts continued to push forward to double their lead, but were unable to do so as shots on goal were either wide or well defended, with Hahnemann producing a fine save to deny Bosingwa for a second time in the game.

In the meantime, Jarvis played in a floated cross towards the middle, but striker Kevin Doyle was unable to capitalise on it as it was inches too higher for the striker to capitalise on it fully.

| Malouda thanks Zhirkov for the assist that led to the opener

Hunt was introduced after the break, and he was given his ceremonial rough reception from the home crowd - owing to the injury involving Petr Cech during his days at Reading. And with the boos still resonating round Stamford Bridge, the winger almost put his side level with a good header, but Michael Essien was on hand to clear the danger.

Minutes later, Cech ensured that his side stayed in the lead as he showed good reflexes to keep the ball out of the net, after a shot from Doyle appeared to be on its way in.

At the other end, Drogba let one loose from range, but it went well over the bar. Not to be left out, Anelka followed suit a few minutes later.

A little past the hour mark, Hahnemann was a hero of sorts, as he came off his line, out of the box, and got a tackle in to ensure that Drogba - who was in acres of space - did not double the lead.

With less than 20 minutes to go, Ancelotti decided to bring on Kalou in place of Malouda to freshen up the attacking third of the pitch. And the move paid off as the Ivorian played a fantastic one-two with Essien before sending a low show into the back of the net.

The hosts continued to move forward in search of a third, as McCarthy looked angry on the sidelines. He then introduced Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in place of Doyle to change things up front, and it almost paid off as a counter-attacking move involving Hunt saw the striker move clear. But the linesman raised his flag to indicate that he had been in an offside position as the ball was played.

As the referee brought the game to a halt, Chelsea moved five points clear in the title race, as Wolves continued their stay in the relegation zone with just six points from nine games and league games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal to come next.

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