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Chelsea back in top 4 after beating Bolton 3-0

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Associated Press

Last Updated: February 25, 2012, 23:07 IST

Chelsea back in top 4 after beating Bolton 3-0

David Luiz, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard scored to end Chelsea's five-match winless run.

London: Chelsea ended a miserable run of five straight winless games by beating Bolton 3-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday, easing some pressure on under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas.

England midfielder Frank Lampard inspired Chelsea on his recall to the team, completing the scoring with a late volley to become the first player to net at least 10 Premier League goals in nine successive seasons.

Brazil centreback David Luiz and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, who went off injured late on, earlier scored after a goalless first half, lifting the London club provisionally into fourth place.

"It was important to win after all the recent disappointments," said Villas-Boas, whose job may have been untenable had Chelsea lost to a team second-from-bottom. "We have been trying so hard and today we managed to do a great, great game."

Arsenal can regain fourth spot - the final qualifying place for the Champions League - with a win over third-placed Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday.

Sixth-placed Newcastle squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Wolverhampton Wanderers, who climbed out of the relegation zone to be replaced by Queens Park Rangers, a 1-0 loser at home to Fulham.

Sunderland, rejuvenated since Martin O'Neill's arrival as manager in December, were brought back down to earth with a 4-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion and last-placed Wigan drew 0-0 at home to Aston Villa.

Lampard was one of the leading Chelsea players, along with fellow senior stars Ashley Cole and Michael Essien, controversially left out by Villas-Boas for the 3-1 loss at Napoli in the last-16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, a decision reportedly sparked by Villas-Boas' heated training-ground meeting with his squad a fortnight ago.

That defeat piled more pressure on the inexperienced Portuguese coach but he brought the old guard back into the starting line-up against Bolton and they played a pivotal role in condemning Bolton to a third straight loss, leaving them level on points with bottom team Wigan and without a victory over Chelsea since 2003.

Lampard demonstrated his enduring value to Chelsea in the club's hour of need, scoring a fine volley and setting up another. The England midfielder wrapped up an ultimately comfortable victory at Stamford Bridge in the 79th minute with the 150th league goal of his career.

Lampard also provided the corner that Drogba headed home in the 61st, with Brazil defender Luiz having set Chelsea on its way with the opening goal in the 48th.

"We managed to find the efficiency in front of goal that we haven't had in the last few games and we are back on track in the league," Villas-Boas said.

The win also showed again how important Lampard is to Chelsea's cause, despite him losing his regular first-team place as Villas-Boas looks to inject some youth into an aging team.

"Today he had a big, big game," Villas-Boas said of Lampard. "Frank always fights for his place and today he proved he can make a difference for the team. But I make selections on the game-by-game basis."

After an uninspiring first half, Luiz - often criticized for his defending - showed his nimbleness further up the field by first embarking on a dribble and then pouncing on a loose ball to curl home a fine finish in the 48th minute.

The goal was greeted with a fist-pump by Villas-Boas, who sprang out of the dug-out in celebration, and there were further cheers when Lampard floated over a corner that Drogba headed home unmarked from eight yards out to move within one goal of 100 in the Premier League.

Lampard then grabbed his 150th career league goal by meeting Juan Mata's deep cross with a textbook volley to add to Bolton's miserable afternoon at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had been dominant but toothless up to that point, but Bolton fell apart after conceding and the hosts could have had five or six by the final whistle.

"It takes a bit of weight off our shoulders to get back to winning ways," said Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, who kept a clean sheet against the club that sold him in January. "The mood in the dressing room is fantastic and we will build from here."

Terry Connor's first match in temporary charge of Wolves started disastrously, with Papiss Demba Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez putting Newcastle 2-0 ahead after 18 minutes.

However, Matt Jarvis reduced Wolves' deficit at the start of the second half and Kevin Doyle snatched the equalizer in the 66th, denting Newcastle's top-four hopes.

"All credit to the lads. They came out second half, did the same things and got their reward in the end," said Connor, who will be in charge until the end of the season.

Pavel Pogrebnyak's early winner for Fulham dropped QPR back into the bottom three, with the hosts' hopes of a comeback further dashed by the sending-off of midfielder Samba Diakite in the 33rd for two yellow cards.

Peter Odemwingie scored twice and James Morrison and Keith Andrews added the others for West Brom in their thrashing of Sunderland, building on their 5-1 rout of Wolves a fortnight ago.