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Blackburn 0-2 Chelsea

By Sam Lyon

Nicolas Anelka
Anelka celebrates the first-half strike that sent Chelsea top of the table

Nicolas Anelka scored twice to continue his fine start to the season as Chelsea marched back to the top of the Premier League with a win at a wet Ewood Park.

In a one-sided first half, only keeper Paul Robinson kept Rovers in it, saving well from Anelka and Jon Obi Mikel.

However, he could do little when Anelka deflected in Jose Bosingwa's drive.

Rovers rallied in the second half with Petr Cech saving from Carlos Villanueva and Jason Roberts but Anelka clipped in a second to seal it.

It was the ideal response from Luiz Felipe Scolari's men following victories for title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal on Saturday. And it ensured the Brazilian would be able to enjoy his 60th birthday with another three points in the bag.

Wilkins happy with three points

However, it was far from plain sailing for the visitors after Rovers shook off a pretty desperate opening half with a gritty, determined second 45 that kept Chelsea firmly on their toes.

Many Blackburn fans may have feared the worst when they saw that Paul Ince had opted to deploy Roberts in a lone striking role in the absence of Benni McCarthy (ban) and Roque Santa Cruz (calf). Frustrate and counter was clearly the manager's gameplan.

But in the first half, at least, it did not work. As early as the fifth minute Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Anelka latched on to Keith Andrews's woeful backpass only to fall over Robinson's leg with the goal at his mercy, but the appeals were waved away.

It was a sign of things to come, with Robinson saving smartly from a couple of Anelka headers and a Mikel chance six yards out, before pulling off an even better one-handed stop to beat away an Anelka hammer from 16 yards out.

'Professional' Chelsea please Lampard

On a brief counter minutes earlier, Villanueva had forced an equally smart save from Cech with a curled drive, but it was the only chance of any note for Rovers fans to cheer in the first 45.

But with standing water gathering on the pitch under the heavy rain, a half-time inspection took place before referee Chris Foy gave the all-clear to continue - and Rovers came out with a new lease of life at the restart.

Striker Matt Derbyshire's introduction ensured Chelsea finally had something to think about in defence, with Villanueva given more freedom to express himself and attack from wide.

It led to a period of sustained Blackburn pressure, with Cech again forced into action to repel Roberts's snap-shot when he wriggled free in the box.

606: DEBATE
BornBlue
Villanueva also blazed wide of the target on a couple of occasions as the Blues fought to wrest back the initiative but just as Rovers looked capable of a leveller, Anelka put the game beyond them.

Lampard pressed the home defence well around the box and, having forced the error, sent in Anelka, who clipped the ball over the advancing Robinson brilliantly to make it 2-0 with his 11th goal of the season.

Blackburn continued to press admirably but failed to create another clear-cut chance, and in fact it was Chelsea who went closest to another when Lampard forced Robinson to tip onto the bar with a 30-yard free-kick.

Anelka broke through for a hat-trick chance late in the closing stages but Robinson got down well to save and ensure a semblance of respectability for the home side.


Blackburn boss Paul Ince:

Ince takes positives despite defeat

"They played well in the first half but Robinson was in fine form and made four or five great saves.

"We took the game to them in the second half and we could have got something out of the game.

"It's disappointing that our performances haven't got us the points we deserved but there is no need to panic, we just need an element of luck to push us forward."

Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari:
"The pitch was dangerous in the first half because it was raining and it was very difficult for us.

"But we finished the half 1-0 and we knew if we made a second goal we would kill this team.

"Anelka is trying every day in training to make [more goals] than he has and now he has more opportunities and scores more goals and that's good for us - and for Anelka."


Blackburn: Robinson, Simpson, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Olsson, Grella (Mokoena 45), Warnock, Villanueva, Andrews (Derbyshire 46), Pedersen, Roberts (Fowler 77).
Subs Not Used: Brown, Samba, Kerimoglu, Treacy.

Booked: Warnock, Simpson.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Bridge, Lampard, Mikel, Deco (Ferreira 90), Kalou (Belletti 62), Anelka, Malouda.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Sinclair, Mineiro.

Booked: Malouda.

Goals: Anelka 40, 68.

Att: 20,670

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Chelsea's Jose Bosingwa 7.54 (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.



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see also
Premier League as it happened
09 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
09 Nov 08 |  Football


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