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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 17:00 UK

Chelsea 4-3 Bolton

By Chris Bevan

Didier Drogba and John Terry celebrate Chelsea's second goal
Didier Drogba and John Terry celebrate Chelsea's second goal

Chelsea held off a thrilling comeback by Bolton to maintain their outside hopes of the Premier League title.

Michael Ballack put the Blues ahead from Salomon Kalou's cross and Didier Drogba's fierce finish made it 2-0.

Frank Lampard scored from the spot when Gretar Steinsson handled and Drogba added a fourth goal from close range.

But Andy O'Brien met Ricardo Gardner's ball to pull one back and Chris Basham prodded home before Matt Taylor's late header meant Chelsea were hanging on.

Bolton came within inches of an injury-time equaliser when Gary Cahill's shot flew just wide but Chelsea and their title bid survived.

Hiddink unhappy with 'sloppy' Chelsea

After the exhilaration and intensity of the attacking display that saw off Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, this was a reality check for Guus Hiddink's side who revealed a rarely-exposed defensive fraility that could give the Reds hope for Tuesday's return.

True, Chelsea were coasting at 4-0, but Bolton began and ended the game as the better team and Hiddink will not have been pleased to see his side collapse once Lampard and Drogba were withdrawn on 66 minutes to rest them ahead of the second leg against Liverpool.

Wanderers, who are still not out of relegation trouble, had the first meaningful effort when Taylor's curling free-kick forced a smart near-post save from Petr Cech in the second minute.


Taylor also headed over Davies' cross at the end of a fluid Bolton move that began when Ballack was caught in possession.

Chelsea did respond, with Jussi Jaaskelainen doing well to keep out Drogba's drive and pushing Lampard's dipping free-kick round a post but Wanderers were still looking the most lively team.

Hiddink's men only got going once they had been denied a penalty when Steinsson clipped Ashley Cole in the area. Referee Peter Walton had a clear view of the incident but felt the Chelsea defender's momentum meant he was going to ground anyway.

By now the Chelsea midfield had taken charge and Ballack showed his intent after 35 minutes when he drilled a shot just over the bar from 30 yards.

The German international did not have to wait long to break the deadlock, however, feeding Kalou on the right before running into the box to sweep home the return pass.

Bolton did go close to equalising before the break when Davies saw his snap-shot fly wide but early in the second half Drogba's goal extended Chelsea's lead.

Ballack dummied Lampard's low free-kick from the right and the Ivory Coast striker hammered home a first-time shot.

The game was seemingly out of sight for Bolton on the hour mark when Lampard saw his cross clip Steinsson's arm and the England midfielder easily despatched the penalty.

Mixed emotions for Megson after defeat

Drogba's opportunistic strike following a goalmouth scramble confirmed the home side's superiority but the game changed direction alarmingly when he was taken off along with Lampard.

Three goals in eight minutes gave Bolton an unlikely chance of a point, with O'Brien leading the fightback when he beat Cech to Gardner's pass and turned the ball home.

Basham pulled another one back when he got a toe to Davies' header and, seconds later, Jaaskelainen's clearance was flicked on by Davies for Taylor to nod home.

That stunned the Stamford Bridge crowd and set up an exciting finish.

Nicolas Anelka could have made the game safe when he latched on to O'Brien's backpass only to see Steinsson hack his shot clear.

Bolton dominated in the closing minutes and the visitors caused havoc with more high balls up to Davies.

But Chelsea, defending desperately, hung on for a win that keeps them within four points of leaders Manchester United at the top of the table.

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink:
"It was a typical English game. We were leading 4-0 with 20 minutes to go and waiting for a fifth.

"All of a sudden we got very sloppy and too relaxed and didn't win any duels defensively.

"I am not just talking about the defence but also the midfield and front players. We conceded three goals in nine minutes I think - that should not be possible against a team that is near the top of the table.

Bolton manager Gary Megson on his side's unsuccessful fightback:
"It has given us great heart, which is the important thing.

"But we went through the whole range of emotions. There was anger at times with the way we defended but for the first 25 minutes we looked quite secure.

"For the last 25 minutes we bossed the game yet still lost which is where the disappointment comes in."

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack, Mikel, Lampard (Deco 66), Kalou, Drogba (Anelka 66), Malouda. Subs Not Used: Hilario, Quaresma, Alex, Belletti, Mancienne.

Goals: Ballack 40, Drogba 48, Lampard 60 pen, Drogba 63.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Shittu (Andrew O'Brien 46), Samuel, Muamba, McCann (Cohen 83), Gardner, Kevin Davies, Elmander (Basham 66), Taylor. Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Smolarek, Puygrenier.

Goals: Andrew O'Brien 70, Basham 74, Taylor 78.

Att: 41,096

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Chelsea's Frank Lampard 7.71 (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
Hiddink warns Blues to 'wake up'
11 Apr 09 |  Chelsea
Live text - Premier League
11 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
11 Apr 09 |  Premier League

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