Anelka grabbed Chelsea's leveller after a swift counter-attack
By Owen Phillips
Branislav Ivanovic headed a late winner as league leaders Chelsea came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers in an exhilarating contest at Ewood Park.
Ivanovic rose to power in a delightful Yuri Zhirkov cross to cruelly deny Rovers with only six minutes remaining.
The hosts dominated the first half and deservedly led when Benjani nodded home El-Hadji Diouf's teasing cross.
But Nicolas Anelka's fine finish after a sweeping move drew Chelsea level and Ivanovic's downward header settled it.
The result - which leaves Sam Allardyce's men still only one place above the relegation zone - was particularly tough on Rovers, who played with guile and creativity and could have been 3-0 ahead by the time the Blues drew level.
Chelsea started confidently enough early on, zipping the ball around in the midfield and looking every bit a side who had scored 27 goals in their nine league games.
Ancelotti encouraged by late winner
But after surviving a scary moment when Ivanovic got free on the right and his fine cross just eluded Didier Drogba, it was Blackburn who dominated the first half-hour.
Brett Emerton had the first sight of goal when he ran through but he did not have the pace to outstrip the visiting defence and was also unable to find Benjani.
Mame Diouf was then denied by an excellent sliding tackle by John Terry, and the same player saw his well-disguised lob just about kept out by the desperate figure of Petr Cech as the big keeper slipped while re-adjusting his feet.
But the chances kept coming and Benjani, making his first Premier League start for Rovers, went close after a powerful run.
El-Hadji Diouf provided the main spark on the left flank with a series of teasing crosses and it was one such cross that led to the opening goal.
El-Hadji Diouf was again the provider as Cech had to stretch every part of his enormous frame to prevent Mame Diouf nodding the ball home.
Chelsea finally started to settle and Michael Essien went close with an improvised, toe-poked effort from edge of the box.
And Anelka, who has scored 11 goals in 15 games against Rovers, drew the Londoners level when Cech's pin-point punt found Malouda.
His delicious cross-field pass was nodded invitingly back into the path of Anelka, who guided the ball past Paul Robinson first time.
That was the crucial moment in the match and gave Chelsea the platform for a much-improved second half.
Both sides went all out for a winner after the interval but neither team were able to exert any long spells of dominance.
Ashley Cole screwed a shot wide after good work by Malouda and Rovers keeper Robinson made a smart stop from Zhirkov's well-struck first-time effort.
Mame Diouf was a whisker away from restoring Blackburn's lead but could not turn home substitute Jason Roberts's clever flick from Morten-Gamst Pedersen's dangerous free-kick.
Allardyce determined to improve results
Roberts, whose strength and ability to hold the ball up came to the fore as the second half wore on, should have put Rovers ahead but shot narrowly wide after muscling his way into the box.
At the other end, Blues substitute Daniel Sturridge smashed a vicious, curling effort just wide after a jinking run.
But Ivanovic - who was about to be replaced by Paulo Ferreira - leapt to head home the winner from Zhirkov's wonderful floated cross to secure Chelsea's first away victory in the league in three matches.
It was particularly cruel on Rovers, whose performance was a fitting tribute to
former player Ronnie Clayton
who died on Friday and whose contribution was recognised by a minute's applause before kick-off.
90:00+4:47 The referee signals the end of the game.
90:00+3:35 Yury Zhirkov fouled by David Dunn, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Michael Essien.
90:00+2:16 Effort from long range by Yury Zhirkov goes wide right of the target.
90:00+2:16 Substitution Nicolas Anelka leaves the field to be replaced by Paulo Ferreira.
90:00+1:55 Didier Drogba challenges Ryan Nelsen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Nelsen.
90:00+1:34 Nicolas Anelka decides to take a short corner.
90:00+0:52 Short corner taken by Didier Drogba.
89:53 Unfair challenge on Nicolas Anelka by Jason Roberts results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Alex.
86:48 Michel Salgado gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Didier Drogba. Free kick taken by Mikel.
85:29 The official flags Ashley Cole offside. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
Correction - 83:24 Yury Zhirkov takes a shot. Assist on the goal came from Yury Zhirkov. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in.
83:24 Yury Zhirkov takes a shot. Assist by Yury Zhirkov. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in.
83:24 GOAL - Branislav Ivanovic:Blackburn 1 - 2 Chelsea Branislav Ivanovic grabs a headed goal from close in. Blackburn 1-2 Chelsea.
82:32 Ashley Cole fouled by Mame Diouf, the ref awards a free kick. Yury Zhirkov crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance
made by David Dunn.
81:47 Jason Roberts has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.
80:41 Didier Drogba fouled by Ryan Nelsen, the ref awards a free kick. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Didier Drogba,
Morten Gamst Pedersen makes a clearance.
80:41 Booking The referee shows Ryan Nelsen a yellow card.
80:26 Mame Diouf takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech.
79:29 Unfair challenge on Phil Jones by Branislav Ivanovic results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
79:29 Substitution David Dunn on for El-Hadji Diouf.
79:29 Booking Branislav Ivanovic receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
78:26 Foul by Jason Roberts on Ashley Cole, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by John Terry.
77:32 Ashley Cole challenges Mame Diouf unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Paul Robinson from
own half, save made by Petr Cech.
76:09 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Nelsen. Inswinging corner taken by Yury Zhirkov from the right by-line, save
by Paul Robinson.
75:14 The offside flag is raised against Jason Roberts. Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.
73:44 Daniel Sturridge has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide left of the goal.
72:25 Phil Jones is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Yury Zhirkov.
71:51 Substitution Daniel Sturridge is brought on as a substitute for Florent Malouda.
67:19 Free kick awarded for a foul by Morten Gamst Pedersen on Michael Essien. Yury Zhirkov produces a cross, Nicolas Anelka takes
a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in. Didier Drogba takes a shot. Blocked by Morten Gamst Pedersen.
65:37 Martin Olsson fouled by Didier Drogba, the ref awards a free kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen delivers the ball from the free kick
left-footed from left wing.
65:37 Booking Didier Drogba is shown a yellow card.
61:09 Jason Roberts fouled by Branislav Ivanovic, the ref awards a free kick. A cross is delivered by Morten Gamst Pedersen, Shot
from inside the six-yard box by Mame Diouf goes wide right of the target.
60:27 Yury Zhirkov takes a shot. Save by Paul Robinson.
58:03 Jason Roberts concedes a free kick for a foul on John Terry. Petr Cech takes the direct free kick.
Correction - 55:06 El-Hadji Diouf challenges Branislav Ivanovic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Alex.
55:06 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic by El-Hadji Diouf. Free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
54:25 Ashley Cole produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the left-hand post.
53:36 Martin Olsson produces a cross, Mame Diouf produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide
of the right-hand post.
50:29 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Martin Olsson by Florent Malouda. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.
49:49 Foul by Florent Malouda on Paul Robinson, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
48:39 Christopher Samba takes a shot.
47:07 Effort from outside the penalty box by Florent Malouda goes wide right of the target.
46:17 Didier Drogba takes a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in.
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:01 Substitution Jason Roberts comes on in place of Benjani Mwaruwari.
45:00+3:12 The referee calls an end to the first half.
45:00+0:16 Didier Drogba takes the inswinging corner, Morten Gamst Pedersen manages to make a clearance.
42:40 Foul by Branislav Ivanovic on El-Hadji Diouf, free kick awarded. Morten Gamst Pedersen delivers the ball from the free kick
left-footed from left channel, Branislav Ivanovic manages to make a clearance.
Correction - 41:54 Foul by Michael Essien on Morten Gamst Pedersen, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Paul Robinson from own
half, Yury Zhirkov manages to make a clearance.
41:54 Unfair challenge on Morten Gamst Pedersen by Michael Essien results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
40:50 Nicolas Anelka is caught offside. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
38:45 Assist on the goal came from Didier Drogba.
38:45 GOAL - Nicolas Anelka:Blackburn 1 - 1 Chelsea Nicolas Anelka fires in a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Blackburn 1-1 Chelsea.
37:13 Michael Essien produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.
35:24 Unfair challenge on Ashley Cole by Brett Emerton results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
33:55 Free kick awarded for a foul by Branislav Ivanovic on El-Hadji Diouf. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
33:55 Substitution Gael Givet goes off and Martin Olsson comes on.
32:33 Booking Michel Salgado is shown a yellow card.
Correction - 29:49 Yury Zhirkov takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Nelsen. Foul by Florent Malouda on El-Hadji Diouf, free kick awarded. Paul Robinson
restarts play with the free kick.
29:49 Yury Zhirkov takes a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in. Unfair challenge on El-Hadji Diouf by Florent Malouda results in a
24:53 A cross is delivered by El-Hadji Diouf, Shot from close range by Brett Emerton misses to the right of the target.
23:39 Corner taken by Florent Malouda, clearance made by Michel Salgado.
22:35 Foul by Brett Emerton on Florent Malouda, free kick awarded. Didier Drogba crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed
from left wing, clearance made by Michel Salgado.
20:59 The assist for the goal came from El-Hadji Diouf.
20:59 GOAL - Benjani Mwaruwari:Blackburn 1 - 0 Chelsea Benjani Mwaruwari grabs a headed goal from close range. Blackburn 1-0 Chelsea.
19:51 Foul by Yury Zhirkov on Michel Salgado, free kick awarded. The ball is crossed by Paul Robinson, Christopher Samba takes a
shot. John Terry gets a block in. El-Hadji Diouf takes a short corner.
17:35 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on El-Hadji Diouf by Branislav Ivanovic. Free kick taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen.
The offside flag is raised against El-Hadji Diouf. Michael Essien takes the free kick.
16:42 Benjani Mwaruwari produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.
15:22 El-Hadji Diouf decides to take a short corner. Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line played
to the near post. Benjani Mwaruwari takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
15:03 Shot by Mame Diouf. Petr Cech makes a save.
13:44 Corner taken left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen from the left by-line to the near post, Florent Malouda makes a clearance.
13:28 Mame Diouf takes a shot. John Terry gets a block in.
12:11 Morten Gamst Pedersen takes a shot. John Terry gets a block in.
10:42 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mame Diouf by Yury Zhirkov. Paul Robinson takes the free kick.
6:51 Didier Drogba has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide left of the target.
1:30 Michel Salgado concedes a free kick for a foul on Yury Zhirkov. Free kick taken by Florent Malouda.
0:00 The match gets underway.
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