Ramires scored Chelsea's fourth as they moved to within seven points of top spot
By Catherine Etoe
Fourth-place Chelsea boosted their title defence with an emphatic victory over Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.
Didier Drogba gave the visitors an early lead against the run of play with an audacious shot from 30 yards out.
Matt Taylor almost levelled with a bullet header but Petr Cech saved well before Florent Malouda scored at the other end from a tight angle.
Nicolas Anelka hit a third with a left-foot shot in the corner and Ramires finished it with a side-foot volley.
It was a night to forget for Bolton, who failed to draw inspiration from the tributes paid before the match to club legend Nat Lofthouse, who died aged 85 on 16 January.
The west Londoners arrived at the Reebok looking to continue an unbeaten away run against Bolton that stretched back 13 years.
Perhaps more importantly, the reigning champions were seeking to reverse a loss of form that has seen them fall behind in the Premier League title race.
We have turned corner - Ancelotti
With not only leaders Manchester United, but second-place Arsenal and Manchester City sitting above them in the table, and with the advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham based on goal difference only, Chelsea needed all three points to stay in touch.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle's side are without a win in 2011, but the Trotters dominated the opening exchanges.
Bulgarian midfielder Martin Petrov found Johan Elmander with a high cross in the box for the hosts' best early chance but as the Swede flicked on to Kevin Davies, the captain failed to test Blues goalkeper Cech.
Central defensive duo Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, who was playing after suffering a rib injury, looked jittery as Coyle's men continued to threaten.
Until this match, Bolton had suffered only one home defeat all season, while Chelsea had lost five league games away this term, but the form book was torn up by Drogba.
Having nicked the ball off defender Gretar Steinsson, Malouda found the Ivorian striker whose blistering shot dipped into the top of keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen's net from around 30 yards out.
Trotters old boy Anelka then had a chance to extend the visitors' lead, but defender Zat Knight made a fine saving tackle to thwart the France international.
The home side were denied moments later when Petrov provided a teasing cross from the left which Matt Taylor met with a bullet header, but Cech acrobatically pushed his effort around the post.
But it was Chelsea who found the back of the net next, this time after Malouda, who was standing almost on the byeline, slammed the ball against the legs of Gary Cahill before slotting the rebound in from a tight angle.
It was 3-0 to the Blues just after the break, Michael Essien pulling the ball back into the area from the line and though Knight was able to prevent Drogba from getting a shot off, the ball fell to Anelka who made no mistake.
We gifted goals to Chelsea - Coyle
Bolton's Mark Davies entered the fray just after the hour, and the midfielder almost netted after a smart one-two with Elmander, but the advancing Cech bravely grabbed the ball off his toe.
Any hopes of a Trotters revival were ended, though, when Essien turned another decent ball into the penalty area and Brazilian midfielder Ramires hit a side-footed shot beyond Jaaskelainen to make it 4-0 - mirroring the scoreline in this fixture last season.
Mark Davies continued to probe the visitors' goal but Cech was quick to extinguish the 22-year-old's efforts and Bolton survived a late penalty appeal as Paul Robinson looked to have caught Anelka in the area, but referee Chris Foy waved play on.
Chelsea now sit seven points behind leaders Manchester United, who have a game in hand but travel to Blackpool on Tuesday, while Bolton drop to tenth below Stoke on goal difference.
70:46 The referee blows for offside against Johan Elmander. Petr Cech takes the indirect free kick.
68:39 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
68:15 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Branislav Ivanovic gets a block in.
62:19 Substitution Rodrigo Moreno is brought on as a substitute for Martin Petrov.
62:19 Substitution Mark Davies joins the action as a substitute, replacing Fabrice Muamba.
60:22 Florent Malouda fouled by Paul Robinson, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Mikel.
59:29 Didier Drogba concedes a free kick for a foul on Johan Elmander. Free kick crossed by Matthew Taylor, Branislav Ivanovic gets
a block in.
55:48 GOAL - Nicolas Anelka:Bolton 0 - 3 Chelsea Nicolas Anelka finds the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Bolton 0-3 Chelsea.
54:46 Martin Petrov takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech.
54:06 The assistant referee flags for offside against Florent Malouda. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
53:48 Martin Petrov sends in a cross, Ashley Cole manages to make a clearance.
50:51 Matthew Taylor gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Didier Drogba. Free kick crossed right-footed by Didier Drogba,
Kevin Davies manages to make a clearance. Florent Malouda takes a short corner. The ball is delivered by Florent Malouda,
clearance made by Kevin Davies.
46:35 Matthew Taylor produces a cross, clearance by Mikel.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+0:57 The match has reached half-time.
43:27 Overhead kick right-footed shot by Johan Elmander. Save made by Petr Cech. Corner taken by Stuart Holden, save made by Petr
40:30 GOAL - Florent Malouda:Bolton 0 - 2 Chelsea Florent Malouda scores a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Bolton 0-2 Chelsea.
39:48 Centre by Nicolas Anelka, Zat Knight gets a block in. Corner taken right-footed by Florent Malouda, save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
38:50 Unfair challenge on Mikel by Kevin Davies results in a free kick. John Terry restarts play with the free kick.
37:31 Gretar Rafn Steinsson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Didier Drogba. Didier Drogba has an effort direct
from the free kick.
37:10 Johan Elmander takes a shot. Jose Bosingwa gets a block in.
36:31 Florent Malouda crosses the ball, clearance made by Gary Cahill.
31:47 The ball is sent over by Martin Petrov, save by Petr Cech.
30:04 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech. Corner from the right by-line taken by Matthew Taylor, clearance made
by Branislav Ivanovic.
29:05 Nicolas Anelka takes a shot. Zat Knight gets a block in.
26:59 Unfair challenge on Ramires by Fabrice Muamba results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
25:02 Drilled left-footed shot by Didier Drogba. Save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
22:55 Zat Knight is caught offside. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
22:28 The ball is crossed by Matthew Taylor, clearance by Jose Bosingwa. Martin Petrov takes a inswinging corner to the near post,
clearance made by Jose Bosingwa.
20:50 Kevin Davies fouled by Branislav Ivanovic, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Martin Petrov. Centre by
15:52 Stuart Holden fouled by Mikel, the ref awards a free kick. Stuart Holden crosses the ball, Headed effort from inside the area
by Gary Cahill misses to the right of the goal.
14:27 Ramires produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
11:43 Ashley Cole gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Matthew Taylor. Free kick taken by Matthew Taylor. Gretar Rafn
Steinsson takes a shot. John Terry gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Martin Petrov, clearance
10:13 Assist by Florent Malouda.
10:13 GOAL - Didier Drogba:Bolton 0 - 1 Chelsea Didier Drogba fires in a goal from outside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Bolton 0-1 Chelsea.
7:10 Kevin Davies concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikel. Free kick taken by Florent Malouda.
Correction - 6:06 The ball is sent over by Jose Bosingwa, clearance by Gary Cahill.
6:06 Jose Bosingwa produces a cross, clearance made by Gary Cahill.
3:58 Unfair challenge on Ashley Cole by Matthew Taylor results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Branislav Ivanovic.
2:44 The ball is sent over by Kevin Davies, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.
2:22 Kevin Davies takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.
1:22 Matthew Taylor delivers the ball, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic. Stuart Holden takes a shot. Martin Petrov is ruled offside.
Free kick taken by Petr Cech.
0:27 Gary Cahill crosses the ball, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.
0:00 The game gets underway.
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