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Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 15:28 UK

Chelsea 1-0 Middlesbrough

By Russell Barder

Ricardo Carvalho
Carvalho put Chelsea ahead with his first goal of the season

A rare Ricardo Carvalho goal was enough for Chelsea as they hung on to beat Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge.

The defender headed home Wayne Bridge's free-kick inside six minutes.

But the visitors were unlucky not to claim at least a share of the spoils as they were denied by the woodwork on three occasions.

Substitute Afonso Alves hit the post from 35 yards and both he and defender David Wheater headed against the bar in a late goalmouth scramble.

Chelsea went into the game without top scorer Frank Lampard, who was suffering from a virus, while Gareth Southgate named an unchanged Boro side.

The home side started brightly and after Didier Drogba had tested Mark Schwarzer from distance, Carvalho headed the home side in front.

606: DEBATE

The Portuguese defender, making his 150th appearance for the club, rose highest to meet Bridge's free-kick from the left and guided the ball past the outstretched Schwarzer for his first goal of the season.

It could have been even worse for Boro moments later, but Drogba could only plant his near-post header wide from Saloman Kalou's corner.

After their bright start, however, Chelsea took their foot off the gas and allowed the visitors back into the game.

Despite that, Boro struggled to create many clear-cut chances and Stewart Downing's low shot from distance, which Carlo Cudicini saved easily down to his right, was about all they good muster in the opening half.

Chelsea could have extended their lead as the half wore on but Kalou saw his shot blocked after good work from Michael Essien, and Joe Cole shot straight at Schwarzer after a marauding run from Drogba.

And just before half-time the Ivory Coast striker had a great chance to make it 2-0 but he headed Cole's cross over the bar when unmarked.

Afonso Alves
Boro substitute Alves was twice denied by the woodwork

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Chelsea making most of the early running.

John Terry headed straight at Schwarzer and Essien's dipping volley flew just over, but the home fans were frustrated as their side's football lacked pace and penetration.

Manager Avram Grant replaced Michael Ballack with Shaun Wright-Phillips and he should have put the game beyond doubt as he first shot wide and then over when well placed.

Brazilian striker Alves should have levelled the score with 20 minutes remaining, when he beat the on-rushing Cudicini to the ball 35 yards out but hit the post with his shot.

And although the visitors swarmed forward in the closing stages, luck was on Chelsea's side.

First Alves headed onto the crossbar and Wheater followed suit with the rebound, before the ball fell to Jeremie Aliadiere who smashed his effort well wide.


  • Chelsea manager Avram Grant:
    "It was important to get the win at this stage of the season.

    "There are a few games to go. It was not a great performance but it was very important that we got the points.

    "Middlesbrough's set-pieces troubled us in the second half but I think we deserved the victory even if it was not a quality game.

    "We didn't play as well as we can and sometimes this happens. But we created chances and scored a goal so that is what matters."

  • Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
    "I think the second half we were much better. In the first half we looked like we came here to swap shirts and watch Chelsea play.

    "But in the second we rattled them, put pressure on Chelsea and I was pleased with the second half. We could have had a penalty and pushed them all the way.

    "We changed the shape at half-time and our mentality changed as well. We seemed content to be losing 1-0 and needed to be more positive and test them which we did.

    "This is a young group of lads and this kind of performance, especially the second half, will help them grow in belief."


    Chelsea: Cudicini, Belletti, Carvalho, Terry, Bridge, Ballack (Wright-Phillips 65), Essien, Obi, Joe Cole, Drogba (Alex 89), Kalou (Anelka 78).
    Subs Not Used: Hilario, Shevchenko.

    Booked: Belletti.

    Goals: Carvalho 6.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor, O'Neil (Johnson 79), Cattermole (Shawky 89), Boateng, Downing, Sanli (Alves 64), Aliadiere.
    Subs Not Used: Turnbull, McMahon.

    Booked: Cattermole.

    Att: 39,993

    Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).


    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Chelsea's Joe Cole 7.23 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




  • Barclays Premier League Table
    01 February 2010 22:00
        P GD PTS
    1 Chelsea 23 38 54
    2 Man Utd 24 36 53
    3 Arsenal 24 32 49
    4 Tottenham 24 20 42

    5 Liverpool 24 16 41

    6 Man City 22 14 41
    7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
    8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
    9 Everton 23 -1 32
    10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
    11 Fulham 23 -2 27
    12 Stoke 22 -7 26
    13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
    14 Wigan 22 -23 22
    15 West Ham 23 -9 21
    16 Bolton 22 -15 21
    17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

    18 Burnley 23 -23 20
    19 Hull 23 -26 20
    20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15



    see also
    Premier League as it happened
    30 Mar 08 |  Premier League
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Sunday's football photos
    30 Mar 08 |  Football


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