Ancelotti relieved after late goal seals Chelsea win

Sunday, October 31, 2010

LONDON - Chelsea fought back from a goal down to defeat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Ewood Park to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the English Premier League.

A goal six minutes from time by Branislav Ivanovic sealed the victory Saturday but manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted that his side was lucky to claim the three points.

“To win here was important because they were better,” the Chelsea manager said. “We were not great again. Blackburn put us under some pressure and we were not able to play our football.

“So it is very important to win here to maintain our position at the top. We are in good condition now and I hope we improve on this victory,” Ancelotti added.

Arsenal and Manchester United kept up their title challenges with home wins over West Ham and Tottenham, respectively. Both sides move to 20 points, five points behind Chelsea. Big-spending Manchester City, however, were humbled 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Blackburn began the game at Ewood Park strongly and thoroughly deserved their lead after 21 minutes when Benjani rose above John Terry to convert El Hadji Diouf’s cross past Petr Cech into the Chelsea goal.

But five minutes before half-time, a superb pass from Florent Malouda reached Didier Drogba, whose header found Anelka in the penalty area and the Frenchman continued his excellent scoring record against Blackburn with a cool finish.

Chelsea improved in the second half, but Blackburn continued to create chances and could have retaken the lead when Jason Roberts shot just wide.

Only moments later, and with just six minutes left on the clock, good work down the left by Yuri Zhirkov set up the winning goal. The Russian’s clipped cross found Ivanovic unmarked at the far post to head simply into the back of the net.

Arsenal went into their match against West Ham at the Emirates in good form and confident of maintaining their title challenge. But despite dominating throughout, Arsene Wenger’s men also left it late to claim the win.

Samir Nasri and substitute Theo Walcott struck the woodwork in the second half as Arsenal pressed for the winning goal. With the game nearing injury time, the breakthrough finally came from an unlikely source as Alex Song’s nodded header converted Gael Clichy’s cross from the left.

Manchester United defeated Tottenham 2-0 in a match that had been billed as a test of the London club’s ambition this season. Goals in either half from Nemanja Vidic and Nani, however, ensured that Tottenham’s poor record at Old Trafford continued.

The opening goal came on the half-hour mark as Vidic powered in a header from Nani’s free kick.

In an open and entertaining game, Spurs had several chances of their own and came closest to scoring after just 10 minutes when in-form Rafael van der Vaart’s superb effort struck the woodwork.

United’s second goal, after 84 minutes, was mired in controversy as the Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had rolled the ball out for a free kick after Nani had handled the ball.

Referee Mark Clattenburg, however, had not penalised the Portuguese player for the offence and Nani was allowed to roll the ball into an empty net despite the vociferous complaints of the Spurs players.

A miserable week for Manchester City was completed when they were defeated 2-1 by struggling Wolves at Molineux.

Despite missing Carlos Tevez through injury, City were able to take the lead midway through the first half as Richard Stearman’s late challenge on David Silva handed the away side a penalty which was converted by Emmanuel Adebayor.

Wolves, however, were quickly back on level terms through Nenad Milijas, and 10 minutes into the second half were ahead after City goalkeeper Joe Hart could only parry Kevin Doyle’s shot into the path of David Edwards.

Elsewhere, Fulham claimed an important 2-0 win at Craven Cottage over Wigan while Everton continue to rise up the league table after Yakubu’s first goal of the season gave them a 1-0 home win over Stoke.

Sunday sees two local derbies as Newcastle host Sunderland and Birmingham travel to Aston Villa, while Liverpool also travel to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton.

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