Monday 23 October 2017

Lampard gets Chelsea back to winning ways

It was a day of deep droning at Ewood Park, from John Terry's every touch being booed by the home supporters to the plane which towed a 'Steve Kean out!' banner, circling overhead.

Frank Lampard's sixth goal in eight matches secured a vital victory, after a run of just one win in four matches, as Andre Villas-Boas' team collected a first clean sheet in the Premier League since the opening weekend of the season, despite Petr Cech suffering a suspected broken nose.

After the shock of the 1-0 defeat at QPR -- and the subsequent fallout of the English Football Association and police investigations into Terry's alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand -- came the 5-3 home defeat to Arsenal and then the 1-1 draw in Genk.

With reference to Chelsea fans singing "Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are" in midweek, Rovers supporters boomed out the same about Terry, while "we'll sing what we want" came from the visitors' section. Questions on Terry were off-limits, but Villas-Boas was content with his team's response to their recent problems. "It was never going to be an easy game and the difficulties that Arsenal had here show that," he said. "We were brave enough to get the victory.

"We needed the stimulus of a win before the international break and it's good to be back to winning ways."

The opening period at Ewood Park was utterly forgettable, with what had looked a promising opening interrupted by a seven-minute stoppage for treatment to Cech, who suffered a nose bleed after pressuring Yakubu into missing from Mauro Formica's cross just a couple of yards out. Other than that, and the plane, there was only a penalty appeal for Chris Samba's challenge on Daniel Sturridge and a flurry of hopeful long-range efforts from the visitors.

But five minutes after the restart, which saw Fernando Torres replace Florent Malouda, the visitors scored, with Branislav Ivanovic cutting inside Junior Hoilett and bending in a cross that was headed in by Lampard.

Cech's retained his team's advantage with some outstanding work. Firstly, there was a double save from Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick and Formica's follow-up before he denied Yakubu after a fast break. When Cech was finally beaten, an Ivanovic header from Pedersen's corner bounced away off the bar before Torres wasted an easy chance to add a second.

Kean claimed not to have seen the plane, even asking a journalist what the banners had said, and took heart from his team's performance.

"I don't think you can continue to play like that without going on a strong run," he said. "We are confident we can climb the table."


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