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Carlo Ancelotti says Chelsea must beat Portsmouth

Chelsea players look dejected after conecding a late equaliser
The Chelsea players will have to pick themselves up for the title run-in

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said his side must win at bottom-club Portsmouth on Wednesday in order to stay in the Premier League title race.

The Blues drew 1-1 with Blackburn on Sunday to slip four points behind Manchester United and two adrift of Arsenal, but with a game in hand.

"I don't know how many points we need to win the title but I know we have to win on Wednesday," said Ancelotti.

"We are behind and have to catch up, but we can still do it."

The draw at Ewood Park dropped Ancelotti's side out of the top two for the first time since the second weekend of the season and continued a run that has seen the Blues win just two of their last eight away league games and pick up just seven of the last 15 points on offer.

Ancelotti retains league title hopes

It also came on the back of their midweek Champions League elimination at the hands of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan and Ancelotti must now lift his side for their trip to a Portsmouth side that is 14 points from safety and all-but relegated.

"We need to work together, stay compact and the next game against Portsmouth is very important, we can stay close to Manchester United," the Italian explained.

"Pressure was already on us as we needed to win against Blackburn. It is more difficult now, but we have to think about Portsmouth on Wednesday and come back to win."

The Blues have eight league games remaining as well as an FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa, but their fixtures include a visit to Old Trafford and a trip to Liverpool, who were beaten 2-1 by United on Sunday.

After seeing his side blow a lead against a battling Blackburn side, the former AC Milan manager admitted his side had lost confidence.

"It has been a hard week, but every week is hard as you have to prepare for the games," he said.

"It was a difficult game, with a lot of fight on the pitch. We tried to play football, but lost some confidence as they put us under pressure and won more second balls. We tried, but were unlucky."

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Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was delighted that his team salvaged a draw after losing a goal in the sixth minute - and the point earned lifts them to 12th in the table.

"They scored a quality goal, which was disappointing, but we came fighting back and we were well worthy of a draw," he told BBC Sport.

Allardyce added: "It was a great cross [from Michel Salgado] and a great header [from Diouf] and a well deserved goal."

The Blackburn boss saved special praise for his 18-year-old centre-half Phil Jones who made a stunning league debut to earn the man of the match award as he helped to shut out Drogba with a resilient display.

Jones, a lifelong Blackburn fan, got the nod after injury to Gael Givet earlier in the week and Allardyce said: "You just hope that when a lad makes his Premier League debut at that age he can stand up to the nerves.

Allardyce pleased by Rovers comeback

"I think he more than did that with an outstanding debut. He is committed and a quality defender who reads the game well. Hopefully there is a bright future ahead for him."

The defender, who has already featured this season in the Carling Cup and FA Cup for Blackburn, told BBC Sport: "It's a dream come true. I've been at the club for a long time and I'm pleased the manager put me in and I showed I can play at this level.

"I was nervous at the start but I felt at home. It was a very big point. It was a big test but we dug deep after conceding a sloppy goal.

"You have to get in amongst them. I watched the Chelsea vs Inter Milan game and we worked on their weaknesses and we got it right."



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see also
Blackburn 1-1 Chelsea
21 Mar 10 |  Premier League
Sunday football as it happened
21 Mar 10 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
21 Mar 10 |  Football
Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool
21 Mar 10 |  Premier League
Chelsea 0-1 Inter Milan (agg 1-3)
16 Mar 10 |  Europe


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