Drogba sends Blues four clear at top

Drogba ensured the Blues took advantage of United’s 3-1 lunchtime

reversal against Everton at Goodison Park with a goal in each half.

It took his tally for the campaign to 25 in all competitions and

earned Carlo Ancelotti’s side only their second away win in their

last seven league games. Chelsea barely moved out of second gear

for long periods ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with

Inter Milan. But the quality finishing of Drogba was the difference

between the sides and means the Blues are now favourites to take

the Premier League crown with only 11 games remaining. Petr Cech

was the busier of the two keepers and made two crucial saves early

in the second half when Chelsea held only a single-goal advantage.

But Wolves’ problem all season has been failure to take their

chances, as demonstrated by their meagre goal tally of 21 –

although Kevin Doyle again impressed as a lone striker. Chelsea

were quickly in the ascendancy and the first half-chance fell to

Michael Ballack. Yury Zhirkov sent over a threatening cross from

the left flank and Ballack got up well in the danger area but

directed his header wide. Doyle produced the first save of the game

out of Cech after 15 minutes. The Republic of Ireland international

made space for himself after a diagonal run and Cech had to go down

to his right to save his 20-yard drive. Doyle then flicked the ball

into the path of the overlapping Kevin Foley but his shot from a

narrow angle flew into the side netting. Doyle was causing problems

for Chelsea and he was alert to a quick throw from Foley and forced

Cech to parry his shot around the post. Ballack was only just too

high with a rasping volley after a corner from Florent Malouda was

only half-cleared. Jones, who had scored the winner against

Tottenham ten days ago, curled a free-kick just wide as Wolves

started to grow in confidence. But five minutes before the

interval, Chelsea took the lead through Drogba. Zhirkov played a

one-two with Ballack before squaring a low ball across the six-yard

box and Drogba had the easiest of tap-ins. Cech produced a superb

reflex save to protect Chelsea’s lead after 55 minutes. Adlene

Guedioura timed his run perfectly to connect with a far-post cross

from Jarvis but his fierce volley was somehow kept out by the

Chelsea keeper. Ancelotti made his first change a minute later with

Zhirkov replaced by Jeffrey Bruma. The home side tried to get a

foothold in the game and Cech produced another splendid stop to

deny Foley an equaliser. Terry miskicked when attempting to clear

and Foley found himself with only Cech to beat but he managed to

block his fierce shot. Ballack became the first player to be

yellow-carded for dissent as the Blues looked rattled. But then

Drogba doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 67th minute as Wolves were

caught napping by a long clearance from Cech. Drogba was the first

to react and took the ball away from Christophe Berra before

clipping the ball wide of Marcus Hahnemann. McCarthy made a triple

substitution with Jarvis, Foley and Jones making way for Geoffrey

Mujangi Bia, Greg Halford and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Doyle was only

just off target for Wolves with a shot on the turn after some

typical aggression. But it needed a good tackle from Ronald Zubar

to deny Anelka a third goal as he bore down on the Wolves goal.

Terry cleared the ball off the line in a late Wolves rally after

Cech had failed to gather a long throw from Halford.