PORTSMOUTH V/S CHELSEA
RAMPANT Chelsea answered their critics with an impressive five-goal blitz of luckless Portsmouth to haul themselves right back into the title race.
Two goals apiece from Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda, plus a late fifth from Frank Lampard, ensured the Blues made a welcome return to winning ways and climb back to second in the table, a point behind leaders Manchester United.
The knives were out for boss Carlo Ancelotti following the Blues’ Champions League exit to Inter Milan last week and the disappointing draw at Blackburn in the league on Saturday.
But the Italian said: “I hope that the bad moment is finished. The next test is Saturday [at home to Aston Villa]. If we win on Saturday then the bad period is over.
“It is important that our confidence improves. I think we lost some confidence in our play recently. We need to maintain our spirit.”
Given the pressure they were under to revive their title bid against the bottom club, Chelsea looked nervous in a low-key opening until they were handed a lifeline on 32 minutes.
Deco’s innocuously-looking headed through ball looked to favour keeper David James, but the England veteran kicked at thin air when attempting to clear, leaving Drogba the simple task of slotting into an empty net.
That stroke of luck clearly settled the visitors down and prompted a rousing second-half display, led by Malouda, who was booed by the home fans for delivering what looked like an elbow on Pompey defender Ricardo Rocha in the first half.
Just five minutes into the re-start, Malouda latched onto Lampard’s through ball and rifled past James for 2-0, before then doubling his tally from close range after James had kept out Lampard’s initial effort.
Drogba made it 4-0 after outmuscling Steve Finnan at the near post to power home John Obi Mikel’s long ball, before Lampard wrapped it up late on, heading home after Drogba had nodded back Joe Cole’s cross.
Ancelotti added: “We were lucky for the first goal. James was unlucky, the bounce of the ball was not good.”
Ribery prefers Spain to Blues’ switch
CHELSEA suffered a blow in their rebuilding plans for next season last night after top target Franck Ribery ruled out a move to Stamford Bridge.
The 26-year-old winger is expected to leave Bayern Munich in the summer but says he is only keen on a move to Spain, with Real Madrid interested.
“Although Chelsea is obviously a big club, if I were to decide against Bayern, then I would certainly go to Spain,” the Frenchman said.