Hosts return to winning ways in a less than vintage Blues performance but club will be extremely relieved after getting Premier League top four push back on track
The Blues started the game brightly, although the first half soon faded out with little by way of incisive goalmouth action.
The second half was a different story, though, with David Luiz opening the scoring within minutes of the game restarting, before Didier Drogba powered home a header and Frank Lampard swept home from Juan Mata’s deep cross.
The result sees some of the immediate pressure lifted from Chelsea boss Villas-Boas, with his side seeming to grow in both confidence and stature as the game wore on, reclaiming their place in the Premier League top four.
Villas-Boas recalled Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien to his starting line-up following the trio’s surprising omission in the Champions League tie at Napoli. Drogba continued to spearhead the attack with Fernando Torres on the bench.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle handed Ryo Miyaichi and Tim Ream their first Premier League starts for the club after the new signings impressed in the FA Cup win against Millwall last weekend.
Daniel Sturridge looked to have seized the initiative in the first five minutes after being released by a sturdy tackle from Frank Lampard. The winger cut in from the left flank but could only fire straight at Alex Bogdan from the edge of the area.
The engaging early period was quickly subdued as Chelsea enjoyed the majority of possession, though they were unable to prize open the defensive-minded Trotters.
Sturridge ghosted in from the right to draw a fine save out of Bogdan with a curling effort destined to fall inside the far post on the half-hour mark, before a succession of fruitless Chelsea corners.
The apparently discontented attacker then could have done better after smartly turning on the edge of the box to see his effort deflected wide. He then fed in Cole, who flashed both high and wide from distance.
A fine chance presented itself for the home side as Lampard poked the ball through but Branislav Ivanovic and Drogba bundled each other over in their attempts to register an effort.
In a rare foray into the Chelsea box, Darren Pratley burst beyond Essien before tumbling to the ground. The Trotters midfielder received a yellow card for diving, though on closer inspection, he may have had a very fair case for a penalty
The forward momentum seemed to shock the visitors into life with Miyaichi blazing over the bar as Tuncay Sanli fed back from the right bye-line moments before the interval.
Just two minutes into the second half Chelsea finally broke the deadlock, the goal a product of Luiz’s energetic burst and finish.
The Brazilian defender nipped in to steal the ball before driving at the Bolton rearguard. The ball was pushed out wide and David Wheater’s attempted clearance from Mata’s ball into the box fell to Luiz, who steadied himself and impressively fired his effort inside the far post.
Though Nigel Reo-Coker almost replied instantly, Chelsea’s goal seemed to galvanise both the Blues and their fans, with Luiz nearly doubling his tally after he headed against the post from a corner.
A flowing counter attack culminated in Drogba bending just over when released down the left.
Then, Chelsea capitalised on their relentless pressure to double their lead on the hour mark, as Drogba rose the highest to power home a Lampard corner.
Chelsea grew in confidence after the second goal, as Mata nearly outfoxed Bogdan with a dinked effort from the edge of the area.
A third goal was added with a little over 10 minutes to go as Mata found himself in a mile of space on the right wing. The Spaniard fired over an inswinging cross, with Lampard advancing to side-foot home with ease from the edge of the six-yard area.
From there, the Blues strolled through to the final whistle, claiming a much-needed victory to get their Premier League top four push back on track.
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