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18:09 23rd October 2010

A Valiant Effort

Chelsea 2 (Malouda 23, Kalou 81)

Wolves 0

Yes, Wolves failed to win for the eighth successive game in the Premier League, and yes they remain rooted in the relegation zone. But they will surely profit soon if they continue to perform as they did against reigning Premier League champions and current leaders Chelsea.

For long periods of the game the home side were frustrated by a hard working Molineux team but goals from Florant Malouda and substitute Salomon Kalou ended any hopes of a shock result.

Richard Stearman took the place of the injured Jody Craddock, Jelle Van Damme came into midfield for the unavailable Michael Mancienne and Nenad Milijaš make his first League start of the campaign as Mick McCarthy played Kevin Doyle as a lone striker with Steven Fletcher dropping down to the bench.

Wanderers kicked-off defending the end of Stamford Bridge that housed 1,500 of their supporters.

In the third minute Petr Cech punched behind a Stephen Ward cross for the first of three Wolves corners in the opening stages. From the third Christophe Berra's header was blocked by John Terry.

Nicolas Anelka's through ball was too strong for Didier Drogba to latch onto but it took a great save from Marcus Hahnemann to keep things level as he got his fingertips to a low angled drive from Jose Bosingwa.

Terry headed wide following a Drogba free-kick but the flag was up for offside anyway, then Cech made a comfortable save from Dave Edwards' header after a cross from Kevin Foley.

In the 23rd minute Cech made another save, this time after Van Damme had got a head to Matt Jarvis's cross from the right, but seconds later, against the run of play, Chelsea moved into the lead.

Anelka found Yury Zhirkov with a short pass in the area and the Russian's low cross was turned in by Malouda.

Anelka could have had a second three minutes later but he fired into the side netting from a good position to the right of goal.

Two shots from Milijaš in just over a minute were both taken by Cech, and then Stearman went into the book for a late challenge on Drogba to the left of the visitor's box.

Malouda's free-kick into the box was eventually cleared by Ward after Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic had tried to convert.

Bosingwa was wide with a low shot from 20-yards and then, after Terry had fouled Doyle just outside the Chelsea area, Edwards flicked the free-kick to Dave Jones whose volleyed centre was claimed by Cech.

Doyle headed wide after a Jarvis centre and shortly before the break Hahnemann saved at the near post with his foot after Bosingwa had charged into the box.

Half-Time: Chelsea 1 Wolves 0

Stephen Hunt replaced Van Damme at the start of the second-half - a move not met with universal approval by the home support.

And the midfielder was soon in the thick of things with a diving header from Jarvis's corner that was cleared from in front of goal by Michael Essien.

Cech had to be alert to turn a snapshot from Doyle around the post whilst Hahnemann enjoyed a stroke of luck when Malouda's dangerous shot struck team-mate Essien and bounced harmlessly behind.

A header from Edwards, following yet another Jarvis centre, looped onto the roof of the net, and then Milijaš let fly from just outside the area but the ball went straight into the midriff of Cech.

Drogba broke clear from the halfway line and, with just Hahnemann to beat, looked odds on to score. But the American robbed the Chelsea hit man with a tackle any defender would have been proud of after running from his area.

There was another chance when Doyle got in a glancing header after a corner from Jones but, again, Cech was perfectly positioned to save. In between, two Chelsea substitutions, Kalou for Malouda and Paulo Ferreira for Bosingwa, Mikel was booked for a heavy challenge on Edwards.

It was a measure of the pressure Wolves were applying that Chelsea had everyone back to defend from Jones's 80th minute corner.

But a well worked move resulted in a second goal for the Londoners just a minute later. Essien, Kalou, Drogba and Essien, again, were all involved allowing Kalou to slide the ball past Hahnemann. The relief from home players and supporters alike was notable.

Chelsea made a final change with Josh McEachran taking the place of Zhirkov and, after Drogba had hit a 25-yard free-kick straight to Hahnemann, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Fletcher were sent on for Doyle and Jarvis respectively.

Berra was booked for handling the ball in the final minute, and in stoppage time Hunt broke clear on the left and laid the ball in front of Ebanks-Blake who was flagged offside.

Wolves will play worse than this and win.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Essien, Drogba, Mikel, Malouda (Kalou 72), Bosingwa (Ferreira 78), Zhirkov (McEachran 82), Terry (capt), Anelka.

Unused subs: Turnbull, Sturridge, Bruma, Kakuta.

Booking: Mikel (73 - foul).

Wolves: Hahnemann, Foley, Ward, Van Damme (Hunt 45), Stearman, Berra (capt), Edwards, Jones, Doyle (Ebanks-Blake 87), Milijaš, Jarvis (Fletcher 87).

Unused subs: Hennessey, Elokobi, Mouyokolo, Davis.

Bookings: Stearman (33 - foul), Berra (89 - hand ball).

Referee: L. Probert.

Attendance: 41,752.

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.