Premier League - Chelsea come from behind to win
Sat, 30 Oct 16:53:00 2010
Premier League leaders Chelsea came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1 in a pulsating encounter at Ewood Park, Branislav Ivanovic's late header the difference between the sides.
Both sides traded chances in a second half full of energy and endeavour, but it was Chelsea who were the more clinical as a galling miss from substitute Jason Roberts was immediately followed by a fine finish from Ivanovic six minutes from time.
A minute's silence was impeccably observed in remembrance of former England and Blackburn Rovers captain Ronnie Clayton, who died earlier this week at the age of 76, and a vociferous atmosphere followed it at kick-off.
Rovers boss Sam Allardyce welcomed back Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen in defence, while Alex returned for the visitors after missing the win over Wolves with a thigh strain and Ivanovic was preferred to Jose Bosingwa at right-back.
Chelsea began the game the brighter, and the visitors could have been in front inside seven minutes had an unmarked Didier Drogba not mistimed his leap after a sublime delivery was whipped over by Ivanovic from out on the right.
Two minutes later Blackburn had a golden opportunity to net the opener: Brett Emerton raced clear beyond Alex, but the Australian lacked conviction and dallied on the ball to allow the defender to make a timely intervention.
Petr Cech then came into his own with two stunning saves in as many minutes. The first of them spared the goalkeeper's blushes after he slipped before managing to tip Mame Diouf's tantalising effort wide. The 28-year-old followed that with a fine reflex block to deny Benjani after the forward had hurtled through on goal.
Chelsea had gone 301 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal when they failed to clear a corner and El-Hadji Diouf dinked a delightful delivery back into the box for Benjani to rise and beat Cech with a precise header.
Gael Givet sustained an ankle injury following a clash with Drogba midway through the first half, and his replacement Martin Olsson was partly culpable for Chelsea's equaliser in the 39th minute. The visitors produced a sweeping move as a long ball from Cech was taken down by Malouda, whose raking diagonal pass was headed into the path of Anelka by Drogba - and the Frenchman duly finished with aplomb from 12 yards.
The injured Benjani was replaced by Roberts at the break. A very scrappy opening to the second half followed as both sides failed to settle into their rhythm.
Fabio Capello sat alongside Blackburn chairman John Williams for the second half, and the England boss would have been more impressed with Phil Jones's robust challenges in midfield than the fluidity of either side's play.
But Chelsea sprung into action on the hour mark as Michael Essien found Yuri Zhirkov, who hurtled into the Blackburn box from the left and fired a low, fizzing shot towards the near corner of the net only for Paul Robinson to parry the ball wide superbly.
Two minutes later Mame Diouf inexplicably failed to turn the ball into the net at the back post as the midfielder latched on to Morten Gamst Pedersen's exquisite delivery from the left - deflecting the ball wide with Cech stranded.
Ancelotti introduced Daniel Sturridge at the expense of Malouda late on, but it was at the other end that the best chance fell late on: Mame Diouf picked out Roberts with an unerring delivery, but somehow the forward fired wide with just Cech to beat.
Chelsea made Roberts and Blackburn pay for such profligacy as Ivanovic ghosted in at the back post to head past Robinson from Zhirkov's dinked delivery out on the left, and the finish was clinical.
The three points see Ancelotti's side assume a five-point cushion at the top of the Premier League table, as Arsenal moved second with a win while Manchester City lost to Wolves.Dan Quarrell / Eurosport