Wolves 1-2 Chelsea: Lampard Late Show Lifts Blues + Video Highlights
Chelsea left it late to claim a 2-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers with Frank Lampard striking the winner with a minute remaining at Molineux
Chelsea left it late to claim a 2-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers with Frank Lampard striking the winner with a minute remaining at Molineux. Andre Villas-Boas was looking for a response from his side who crumbled to a 3-1 reverse at home to Aston Villa two days ago and the Blues were put on the road to victory when Ramires swivelled in a crowded area to score. Wolves rallied late on and inspired by Mick McCarthy’s substitutions pulled level on 84 minutes through Steven Ward. A familiar story was about to be written in the Chelsea headlines, however the Blues battled on and Lampard added to his list of vital goals with just a minute of normal time to win the game.
Chelsea headed to the Midlands without a win in their last four games and just 3 points from a possible 12, but they were greeted by a fixture that has not been kind to them in recent years; the Blues lost here this time last year losing to a solitary Jose Bosingwa own-goal. Villas-Boas was forced into changes to his attack with Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard replacing the injured Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba, while Jose Bosingwa -looking to avenge that own-goal last year- started ahead of Paulo Ferreira.
But Bosingwa was clearly spooked by the ghost of that unfortunate game a year ago as the Portuguese full back nearly gifted Wolves a first minute lead. His slip allowed David Edwards the chance to test Petr Cech with an early shot but it lacked the conviction to beat the stopper and Cech saved comfortably, much to the relief of Bosingwa. Whatever he had that caused the error was clearly contagious as Christophe Berra and Ward’s mis-communication allowed Torres to pick up the ball and feed Juan Mata whose shot failed to find the target.
There were nerves from both sides: Chelsea eager not to lose any further ground in their title bid, and Wolves, struggling for points desperate to move away from the relegation zone. But it was the visitors who began to settle, monopolising possession thanks to some promising performances from Torres and Mata. Whilst the former has struggled for goals in a blue shirt, he was making up for his drought with some incisive through balls, first setting up Mata and then Lampard who found himself one on one with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey who in turn did well to put the England midfielder off.
The home side were chasing the game for much of the opening 25 minutes but their determination and hard work restricted Chelsea to limited clear-cut chances, doing everything in their power to stop them. Karl Henry, Kevin Doyle and Mark Hammill were all given cautions for the hosts while Lampard was booked after sliding in on Hammill and Oriol Romeu shortly after him. Hammill took the proceeding free-kick and found the unmarked Ward, only for him to plant his header wide.
The game developed more into a stop-start affair which is no doubt how McCarthy wanted the game to transpire, stunting any Chelsea attack and disrupting any rhythm Villas-Boas’ men hoped to encourage. But it did not stop Chelsea having the chance to open the scoring moments before the break when Hennessey turned over Bosingwa’s powerful drive while Lampard and Terry also went close.
Jarvis entered the fray at half-time as the only change to either side, and 10 minutes into the half Chelsea took a deserved lead. Mata’s inswinging corner was flicked on by Terry and Ramires -with a slice of fortune for the way the ball fell- dragged the ball from under his feet and drilled a powerful effort through a mass of bodies into the roof of the net. It was the Brazilian’s sixth goal of the campaign and the players celebrated in a united fashion, no doubt in a bid to quash the media reports of a split dressing room at Stamford Bridge.
Fletcher almost immediately entered the fray as McCarthy’s side now had to chase the game if they were to grind anything out of it but it did not stop the one-way traffic as Chelsea went in search of a second. Goalscorer Ramires showed good pace on the right hand side and tested Hennessey from a wide angle before the Brazilian, brimming with confidence following his goal, set up Torres whose volleyed effort went wide. The Spaniard -in fine form, despite his goal drought- almost fashioned a chance for himself following a sublime piece of skill, yet the chance went begging.
Entering the final 10 minutes and Chelsea, keen to double their lead were pegged back in an almost predictable fashion following three 1-1 draws in their last four games. Jarvis clipped a delightful ball behind the Chelsea backline and fellow sub Fletcher’s cross was emphatically turned in by Ward. A familiar story for those travelling fans who also witnessed the last minute shambles at Wigan last month, but Villas-Boas’ fury would not last long. With 89 minutes on the clock, Ashley Cole received the ball from Lampard who continued his run and volleyed home from the resulting cross.
It was a fitting finish for the visitors who were desperate to avoid another disappointment and it was also fitting that Lampard, dropped for the last game and criticised by sections of the media for his flagging influence, bagged the goal. The players mobbed their boss Villas-Boas, demonstrating that there may be enough unity in this team to mount a title challenge after all.
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