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Chelsea   3 - 0   Birmingham

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Ancelotti encouraged by confident win

By Sam Lyon

Chelsea stormed back to the top of the Premier League with another superb home performance as they ended Birmingham's 15-match unbeaten run in fine style.

Florent Malouda got the ball rolling with the simplest of headers after some good work down the right by Joe Cole.

And Frank Lampard grabbed the second with a typically pin-point 20-yarder.

Birmingham had only two shots on goal, Petr Cech saving the best from Keith Fahey, and Lampard slammed in a third late on to wrap up a comprehensive win.

The results means the Londoners, thanks in part to rivals Arsenal's failure to beat Aston Villa at Villa Park, return to the top of the table after falling off the number one spot last weekend for the first time in three months.

McLeish deflated after defeat by Chelsea

And with key striker Didier Drogba due to return to the squad this weekend following the Ivory Coast's exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, the Blues' title rivals could not possibly underestimate the challenge Chelsea pose in such apparently irrepressible form.

Not that Chelsea have missed the frontman's presence, as they have scored 17 goals in the four matches they have played without him.

This, too, was a performance full of intent from the hosts, and against one of the most in-form sides in the Premier League.

Had they held out against Carlo Ancelotti's side, Birmingham would have equalled Nottingham Forest's record of of 13 matches unbeaten for a newly-promoted side in the top flight - set in 1994-95 season.

606: DEBATE
From Chelsea With Love

But resisting a Chelsea outfit that has won 31 out of 33 points available at Stamford Bridge this season, including a 7-2 rout of Sunderland last time out, was always going to be a difficult proposition.

The visitors simply had no answer to Chelsea's passing and movement. With Deco the fulcrum, Lampard typically effervescent, and Joe Cole always inventive, Birmingham were given barely a glimpse of the football all night.

And the visitors' task was made all the more difficult by Malouda's early goal.

Joe Cole, in arguably his best performance since his return from a knee injury, created it, beating Lee Bowyer for pace down the right and then crossing to present Malouda with the easiest task of heading home unmarked from six yards out.

Cameron Jerome saw his shot deflected narrowly over the Chelsea crossbar off his strike partner Chucho Benitez at the other end, but the hosts' dominance was otherwise complete.

Joe Cole twice went close with long range efforts, Ballack stung the palms of keeper Joe Hart, and Ricardo Carvalho slammed a header against the post from a Malouda corner as the Londoners toyed with Birmingham at times.

So it was no surprise when Chelsea doubled their lead, Lampard finding plenty of room on the edge of the box, taking a touch, and then slamming precisely into the far corner.

It prompted a slight relaxation in the hosts' approach, allowing Birmingham a rare spell in possession, but Ancelotti's men were back on their mettle at the start of the second half and Ballack, twice, threatened a third.

First he brought a smart stop from Hart with a neat header from Ashley Cole's cross and then his clever flick from Malouda's corner drifted narrowly over.

Birmingham, though, have been nothing if not resolute this season, and twice in a couple of minutes they forged chances out of nothing with the minutes ticking down.

James McFadden should have done better when he dragged wide of Cech's goal from inside the box, before substitute Fahey brought a flying save from the Czech keeper moments later when his toe-poke looked to be heading into the top corner.

It was an admirable, albeit brief, rally from the visitors but it served only in focusing the Chelsea players as they entered the closing stages.

And few could argue that Chelsea did not deserve the third when it came, Lampard striding on to Malouda's pass and firing low past Hart with barely a minute left on the clock.

It means Birmingham stay eighth in the table, though they need feel no shame in succumbing to a superb Chelsea performance.

As for the hosts, an 11th clean sheet of the season only added to a fine night at Stamford Bridge as they march forward in their attempts to win the league title for the first time since 2006.


Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti:
"We use all the pitch to attack and so Frank is able to run into the box to score. I think he's the best running midfielder in the world. He has this fantastic quality to time his run into the box.

"It's good we are back at the top. We have one more point with a game in hand on United and two points more than Arsenal.

"That's important because on Sunday United play Arsenal. Maybe we can improve our position on Saturday."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish:
"I don't think anyone has won here this season and they have battered better teams than us.

"I'm not disappointed with the players at all. They deserve tremendous credit for the run they have been on and they have the character to bounce back.

"Chelsea are a good side. They have the foreign flavour, the keep-ball and movement is excellent. They are one of the favourites for the Champions League, let alone the Premier League.

"We have kept the ball better than that and were wasteful in possession, but I'll forgive the players this one. There's no disgrace losing here."

Live text and stats

 

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Chelsea 3-0 Birmingham FT
(HT 2-0)
  • Malouda 5
  • Lampard 32
  • Lampard 90

    Chelsea

    Substitutes

    Birmingham

    Substitutes

    • 01 Taylor,
    • 20 Queudrue,
    • 27 Gregory Vignal,
    • 17 Michel,
    • 18 Fahey,
    • 19 McSheffrey,
    • 22 Johnson
    Ref: BennettAtt: 41,293
    CHELSEA
    BIRMINGHAM

    Possession

    • Chelsea 57%
    • Birmingham 43%

    Attempts on target

    • Chelsea 17
    • Birmingham 3

    Attempts off target

    • Chelsea 8
    • Birmingham 2

    Corners

    • Chelsea 8
    • Birmingham 3

    Fouls

    • Chelsea 11
    • Birmingham 8
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:23 The final whistle goes and the game is over.
    • 90:00+2:50 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Yuri Zhirkov by Sebastian Larsson. Free kick taken by Frank Lampard.
    • 90:00+2:23 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee Bowyer on Deco. Michael Ballack takes the indirect free kick.
    • 90:00+1:58 Roger Johnson is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.
    • 90:00+1:08 Deco challenges Lee Bowyer unfairly and gives away a free kick. Barry Ferguson takes the indirect free kick.
    • 89:19 Assist by Florent Malouda.
    • 89:19 GOAL - Frank LampardChelsea 3 - 0 Birmingham Frank Lampard grabs a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 3-0 Birmingham.
    • 87:19 Substitution Daniel Sturridge comes on in place of Nicolas Anelka.
    • 86:20 Florent Malouda takes a inswinging corner.
    • 86:01 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
    • 83:08 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Blocked by Florent Malouda.
    • 81:39 Nicolas Anelka challenges Joe Hart unfairly and gives away a free kick. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
    • 81:03 Inswinging corner taken by Frank Lampard, save by Joe Hart.
    • 80:02 Substitution Yuri Zhirkov replaces Joe Cole.
    • 79:35 Florent Malouda produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
    • 77:33 Unfair challenge on Roger Johnson by Joe Cole results in a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
    • 75:57 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Sebastian Larsson.
    • 75:46 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
    • 73:16 Free kick awarded for a foul by Joe Cole on Liam Ridgewell. Indirect free kick taken by Keith Fahey.
    • 72:48 Christian Benitez challenges John Terry unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ricardo Carvalho restarts play with the free kick.
    • 71:29 Substitution Miguel Marcos Madera on for James McFadden.
    • 70:40 James McFadden has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.
    • 70:22 Ashley Cole takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
    • 67:55 Frank Lampard takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.
    • 67:31 Joe Cole takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.
    • 65:27 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
    • 64:00 Joe Cole takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 63:03 Free kick awarded for a foul by Barry Ferguson on Branislav Ivanovic. Michael Ballack takes the free kick.
    • 62:29 Liam Ridgewell concedes a free kick for a foul on Branislav Ivanovic. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
    • 61:04 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Petr Cech.
    • 60:41 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Ballack on Lee Bowyer. Scott Dann takes the indirect free kick.
    • 59:35 Florent Malouda takes the inswinging corner, Effort on goal by John Terry from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 58:03 Corner taken by Florent Malouda from the right by-line to the near post, Shot by Michael Ballack from deep inside the six-yard box clear the bar.
    • 55:08 Substitution Keith Fahey replaces Cameron Jerome.
    • 55:08 Foul by Frank Lampard on Barry Ferguson, free kick awarded. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.
    • 54:10 Corner from left by-line taken by Sebastian Larsson.
    • 53:08 Michael Ballack takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 51:42 Cameron Jerome is caught offside. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
    • 50:43 Nicolas Anelka produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.
    • 50:14 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee Bowyer on Deco. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Cole.
    • 48:55 Shot by Florent Malouda from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
    • 46:57 Handball decision goes against Sebastian Larsson. Frank Lampard takes the direct free kick.
    • 45:08 Unfair challenge on Ashley Cole by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Ashley Cole takes the indirect free kick.
    • 45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+1:18 The ref blows to signal half-time.
    • 45:00+0:41 Florent Malouda concedes a free kick for a foul on Roger Johnson. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
    • 39:43 Shot from just outside the box by Frank Lampard goes over the crossbar.
    • 38:51 Deco gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McFadden. Direct free kick taken by Sebastian Larsson.
    • 37:43 Foul by Florent Malouda on Stephen Carr, free kick awarded. Sebastian Larsson takes the direct free kick.
    • 34:06 Inswinging corner taken by Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
    • 33:38 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Blocked by Roger Johnson.
    • 32:45 Stephen Carr takes a shot. Blocked by Frank Lampard.
    • 31:10 Assist by Michael Ballack.
    • 31:10 GOAL - Frank LampardChelsea 2 - 0 Birmingham Goal scored by Frank Lampard from just outside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Chelsea 2-0 Birmingham.
    • 30:24 Deco takes a shot. Comfortable save by Joe Hart.
    • 27:31 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.
    • 26:24 Joe Cole takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
    • 23:23 Florent Malouda takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.
    • 23:03 Joe Cole takes a shot. Stephen Carr gets a block in.
    • 21:42 Frank Lampard takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.
    • 20:30 Corner from the right by-line taken by Florent Malouda, John Terry takes a shot. Barry Ferguson gets a block in.
    • 18:39 Unfair challenge on Florent Malouda by Stephen Carr results in a free kick. Ashley Cole restarts play with the free kick.
    • 15:47 Foul by Joe Cole on Scott Dann, free kick awarded. Indirect free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
    • 11:42 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Christian Benitez gets a block in.
    • 10:07 The referee blows for offside. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
    • 8:26 Shot from just outside the box by Branislav Ivanovic misses to the right of the goal.
    • 6:52 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by James McFadden, clearance made by Branislav Ivanovic.
    • 4:59 Assist by Joe Cole.
    • 4:59 GOAL - Florent MaloudaChelsea 1 - 0 Birmingham Florent Malouda finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Chelsea 1-0 Birmingham.
    • 4:16 Christian Benitez produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.
    • 2:37 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James McFadden by Branislav Ivanovic. Barry Ferguson restarts play with the free kick.
    • 0:00 The referee gets the game started.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League results

    27 Jan 2010 23:59 UK


    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 27 Jan 2010 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Chelsea 22 37 51
    2 Man Utd 23 34 50
    3 Arsenal 23 34 49
    4 Tottenham 23 20 41
    5 Liverpool 23 14 38
    6 Man City 21 12 38
    7 Aston Villa 22 11 37
    8 Birmingham 22 -1 33
    9 Everton 22 -2 29
    10 Fulham 22 0 27
    11 Blackburn 23 -15 27
    12 Stoke 21 -7 25
    13 Sunderland 22 -10 23
    14 Wigan 21 -22 22
    15 Bolton 21 -13 21
    16 West Ham 22 -9 20
    17 Wolves 22 -21 20
    18 Burnley 22 -22 20
    19 Hull 22 -26 19
    20 Portsmouth 21 -14 15

    see also
    Wednesday football as it happened
    27 Jan 10 |  Football
    Wednesday's football photos
    27 Jan 10 |  Football


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