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News18 » Football
3-min read

Lampard secures crucial win for Chelsea

Lampard's late winner from close range ended Chelsea's four-game run without a win.

| Associated Press

Updated:January 2, 2012, 11:43 PM IST
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Lampard secures crucial win for Chelsea
Lampard's late winner from close range ended Chelsea's four-game run without a win.

Wolverhampton: Frank Lampard relieved the pressure on Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas by securing a 2-1 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

Chelsea dropped out of the Premier League's top four on Saturday after losing to Aston Villa and relied on Lampard's late winner from close range to end a four-game run without a win.

Ramires had put Chelsea in front in the 54th minute, holding off Stephen Ward's challenge before firing the ball into the roof of the net. Ward looked to have salvaged a point for Wolves when he leveled in the 84th, but the loss left Wolves just two points above the relegation zone.

Chelsea are back in fourth, and stayed there after Arsenal's late collapse at Fulham on Monday.

Fulham's comeback to secure a 2-1 victory over 10-man Arsenal began in the 85th minute with Steve Sidwell's leveler followed by Bobby Zamora's stoppage-time winner.

Arsenal led following Laurent Koscielny's 21st-minute header, but were clearly shaken by Johan Djourou's sending off in the 78th.

Chelsea now have a one-point advantage over Arsenal in fourth, but are eight points behind the pacesetters: Manchester rivals City and United.

A big plus was the performance of Fernando Torres, who started in the absence of the injured Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge. The former Liverpool striker looked sharp and committed throughout the 90 minutes and there were signs of him returning to his best, even if he did not score for the first time since October 23.

But Wolves' battling spirit meant they were always in contention, with winger Adam Hammill causing plenty of problems.

An early slip by Chelsea defender Jose Bosingwa allowed David Edwards a shot at goal inside the first 20 seconds, but it lacked power and Petr Cech was able to save comfortably low to his right.

A mix-up between Wolves defenders Christophe Berra and Ward allowed Torres to play in Juan Mata, but his shot failed to hit the target.

It needed Richard Stearman to make a fine tackle to deny Lampard a clear-cut chance to break the deadlock.

Lampard became the first player to be booked, for a sliding tackle on Hammill midway through the first half, though the midfielder was fortunate not to have been sent off.

"My heart was in my mouth over that challenge. I have to admit that," he said after the match. "There was no malice, and I honestly mean that, but I was late and I might have been a bit lucky to stay on the pitch."

The Wolves winger also went into referee Peter Walton's notebook for his challenge on Ashley Cole.

Wolves midfielder Karl Henry was booked for tripping Torres on the edge of his box. Then Doyle was cautioned after throwing the ball at Cole after he had been upended by the England left-back.

It became five yellow cards in eight minutes when Oriol Romeu brought down Hammill, who took the free kick himself. Edwards found himself unmarked six yards out but directed his header past the post.

Wolves were still looking dangerous on the counter-attack into the second half and Matt Jarvis' pace took him past Bosingwa before his cross fell to Hammill 15 yards out. He kept his volley down, but it bounced up invitingly for Cech, who saved away to his right.

Chelsea captain John Terry attacked Mata's corner but managed only the slightest of touches and the ball broke to the Brazilian, who netted his sixth goal of the campaign.

The Chelsea players made a point of celebrating on the touchline with Villas-Boas and the coaching staff, who have endured a mixed first season in charge.

"It's just part of them showing the unity of the team," said Villas-Boas, whose side lost to Aston Villa on Saturday. "This team is focused on getting the consistency in terms of getting the results. If we go on a winning streak of five or six games, which we are capable of, we can be fighting for this league."

Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey needed to be alert to block an attempt from Raul Meireles, Stearman produced a crucial challenge to halt Torres inside the box, before Mata fired into the side-netting.

And Chelsea were stunned when Ward brought Wolves level after Fletcher turned a deep cross from Jarvis back into his path.

However, Lampard won it for Chelsea's four minutes later after Torres had found Cole in space to deliver the telling cross, but they needed Cech's heroics in the fourth minute of stoppage time to preserve all three points.

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