Premier League - Chelsea coast to victory
Chelsea coasted to a 3-0 Premier League victory over Wolves at Stamford Bridge to give under fire boss Andre Villas-Boas a stay of execution.
The heat was on Villas-Boas heading into the game, having made the worst start of any new Chelsea manager in the Roman Abramovich era - with 22 points from 12 Premier League games.
This poor run included losing back to back home Premier League games for the first time since May 2002.
But they reclaimed Stamford Bridge with a comprehensive victory over Wolves - who have won just one of their last 11 Premier League matches.
Villas-Boas's men were clearly out to silence their critics and as they started the game brightly. The contest was barely two minutes old when Raul Meireles fired the first warning shot of the game with a low drive just past Wayne Hennessey's right hand post.
Ramires was the next to threaten as he strode through the midfield, before thumping a low drive towards the bottom left hand corner, but the Wolves goalkeeper did exceptionally well to get down low to his right and turn the ball around the post.
But his efforts were in vain as from the resulting corner Mata whipped in a pinpoint delivery and Terry leaped above team-mate David Luiz and Stephen Ward to guide a header into the far corner, out of Hennessey's reach.
The home side's performance looked to be hitting a flat note as the guests battled their way back into the match, until their swashbuckling Spaniard produced another moment of quality.
The former Valencia player skipped past a cumbersome George Elokobi, before sliding the ball across the box to a loping Daniel Sturridge, who nipped in ahead of his marker to divert the ball into the back of the net.
Sturridge's goal did much to justify his selection, after Villas-Boas shouldered the criticism for leaving Fernando Torres on the bench and putting faith in the England international.
The 22-year-old continued to torment the visitors' defence as he skipped inside from the right wing and unleashed a swerving shot that would have rippled the back of the net, had it not been for the right hand of an airborne Hennessey.
As the opening 45 minutes came to a close Mata got the goal his first half performance deserved to put the game beyond doubt.
The Spanish international made a perfect connection with Ashley Cole's cross from the left to send a rising volley into the roof of the Wolves net.
In the second half the away side refused to lie down, but their fight could only carry their tired legs for so long as the superior quality in Chelsea's ranks created a number of chances.
Had it not been for the heroics of Hennessey the scoreline would have read a lot worse for Mick McCarthy's beleaguered troops.
The Wolves shot-stopper set the stone for the second period with a flying save from a spectacular Ramires volley. He then flung himself across goal as he watched a 25-yard effort from Didier Drogba fly past his right hand post.
Sturridge and Mata picked up where they left off in the first half with another 45 minutes of dynamic attacking play.
It was left to Hennessey to once again deny the Chelsea pair another goal. First the Wolves goalkeeper beat out a fizzing shot from Sturridge, only to see the rebound fall to Mata, who did well to readjust his feet and send a shot goalwards. A floored Hennessey was there again, scrambling to his right to deny the master craftsman.
Wolves threatened on occasion, but their lack of quality was exposed by Chelsea's main protagonists as they sought victory after a difficult week.