LONDON: Andre Villas-Boas will still be in a job on Monday morning after Chelsea eased the pressure on their embattled young Portuguese manager with a 3-0 win over Bolton at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
Chelsea had gone five matches without a win including the 3-1 midweek defeat by Napoli in Italy in the Champions League and AVB responded by not only recalling Frank Lampard to his starting line-up but handing him the captain’s armband in the injury absence of John Terry.
Lampard, Chelsea’s top scorer despite clearly not being Villas-Boas’s favourite player, had been omitted from the starting line-up Italy – because, according to some reports, he had been highly critical of recent team selection and tactics in a squad meeting.
Chelsea were the better side in the first half and gained their due reward three minutes after the interval through David Luiz. Lampard then provided the corner from which Didier Drogba headed No2 before scoring the third himself, sweeping home a cross from Juan Mata.
Lampard’s 150th league goal also saw him become the first player to reach double figures in nine consecutive Premier League seasons.
At the top of the table Manchester City moved five points clear of neighbours United, at least temporarily, with a 3-0 win over Blackburn. In the week Carlos Tevez was welcomed back to training, leading strikers Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko reminded manager Roberto Mancini of their talents in a one-sided home win. Blackburn hardly ever threatened and the margin of defeat might have been greater but for the fine saves of Paul Robinson.
Newcastle threw away a two-goal lead as Terry Connor began his spell as caretaker manager of Wolves with a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park. Papiss Cisse (six minutes) and Jonas Gutierrez (18) threatened to push Wolves deeper into relegation trouble but a spirited second-half recovery brought goals from Matthew Jarvis (50) after a a deflection off Danny Simpson and Kevin Doyle (66).
West Bromwich, whose recent thrasging of Wolves prompted the sacking of Mick McCarthy, turned on the style again in beating Sunderland 4-0. Peter Odemwingie scored twice (three and 48) with James Morrison (41) and Keith Andrews sealing the Black Cats’ heaviest defeat since Martin O’Neill took over as manager in January.
An early goal from Russian new arrival Pavel Pogrebnyak secured a 1-0 win for Fulham away to west London neighbours Queens Park Rangers. Pogrebnyak struck afer only seven minutes against QPR who were reduced to 10 men when Samba Diakite was sent off after 33 minutes.
Wigan remained bottom of the Premier League after a goalless draw with Aston Villa.
In Scotland Gary Hooper’s second-half goal provided leaders Celtic with a 1-0 win over Motherwell which lifted them 23 points clear of administration-hit Rangers.