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Chelsea return to winning ways against Wolves

Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas with a 3-0 victory over Wolves.

| Associated Press

Updated:November 26, 2011, 10:38 PM IST
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Chelsea return to winning ways against Wolves
Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas with a 3-0 victory over Wolves.

London: Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas on Saturday by sweeping to a 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

Captain John Terry settled the home team's nerves by heading home Juan Mata's corner in the sixth minute, Daniel Sturridge slipped his marker to tap home Mata's cross just before the half hour and the Spaniard added the hosts' third in the last minute of the first half.

Beaten 2-1 last weekend by Liverpool, Chelsea had slipped in the domestic standings and then lost 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in mid-week, costing Villas-Boas' side an early place in the last-16.

The result could have been a rout had it not been for a series of excellent stops from Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, the highlight of which was a double-save from Sturridge and Mata halfway through the second half.

The performance was hardly vintage Chelsea, who will come up against much tougher opponents in the coming weeks, but the result will help Villas-Boas, even though his team remained fifth after Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

Chelsea went into the match having lost two of their last three league games. After a cagey opening five minutes, Chelsea took hold of the game thanks to Terry's opener. Ramires stole the ball off Nenad Milijas and fired goalwards, only to see Hennessey tip the Brazilian's effort wide with a brilliant save. But from the resulting corner Terry lost his marker to head Mata's cross home from eight yards to give the Blues the lead.

The Blues were cautious in possession and appeared to lack the confidence to turn the screw on their opponents, but they suddenly sprung to life to double their lead in the 29th minute. Mata sent over a low cross that Sturridge tapped home from close range after muscling past his marker.

Hennessey spilled Sturridge's powerful shot over the bar just before the break and Mata made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when he was given room to beat Hennessey from 12 yards.

Hennessey pulled off an excellent save to stop Ramires' powerful volley after the break as Chelsea looked to start the second half in the same way they had ended the first.

Wolves looked a much more confident outfit in the second half, however, and almost pulled one back when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake threaded Stephen Ward through, but the Irishman's shot trickled a couple of yards wide.

Didier Drogba, who had been quiet for most of the match, hammered a powerful drive just wide while Hennessey was scrambling across his goal-line.

Frank Lampard, dropped for Oriol Romeu, received a huge welcome when he came on in the 69th minute in place of Raul Meireles. Hennessey then pulled off an excellent double save from point-blank range to deny Sturridge and then Mata.

The home crowd demanded Fernando Torres' introduction, and Villas-Boas finally unleashed the former Liverpool man in the place of Drogba. The Spaniard darted in to the Wolves box, keen to make an impact, but his fierce shot was deflected wide.

Torres once again stormed the Wolves penalty area but failed in his audacious attempt to lob Hennessey from 18 yards as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.

Villas-Boas said his team can still regain the title.

"We have the talent and belief will be the last thing to die with us," Villas-Boas said. "Manchester City play tomorrow in a difficult game. In the past, we have seen examples of us shortening distances but for that example to serve as inspiration, we need to get the winning streak back."

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