LONDON: Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the English Premier League to four points after a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge.
Nicolas Anelka’s goal two minutes before half-time secured a victory that left Carlo Ancelotti’s men four points clear of champions Manchester United, with both sides now having only four league games left to play this season.
It was Anelka’s first goal in 14 matches as he last netted at Burnley in January.
Bolton got stuck in the Chelsea half at every opportunity and left-back John Terry needed treatment after tangling with Bolton forward Matthew Taylor before Kevin Davies left Yuri Zhirkov with a bloodied head wrapped in bandages following an aerial collision. Zhirkov’s injury hardly helped Chelsea’s rhythm and he was twice forced to leave the field to patch up his bleeding wound before half-time.
But the Russian returned to play his part as Chelsea took the lead in the 43rd minute. He rolled a pass wide to Drogba on the left wing and the Ivory Coast striker whipped over a perfect cross that Anelka met with a close-range header which gave Jaaskelainen no chance.
Real look to bounce back
Real Madrid will be looking to pick themselves up for a trip to Almeria on Thursday. Real’s coach Manuel Pellegrini has come under a barrage of criticism despite statistics showing him in good light - 77 points from 31 games - but the Real board are notoriously demanding and have severely criticised him for losing against big teams like Sevilla, AC MIlan, Lyon and twice against Barcelona.
The league is still a possibility, if Barca slip up, but early elimination from the Champions League and Kings Cup combined with two Clasico defeats has reportedly persuaded Real to look at possible replacements. Real had been on a 12-match winning streak in the league before being beaten by Barcelona and Almeria can thus, expect a backlash. Real’s 12 game winning streak was stopped short last week on Saturday, after Barcelona beat them 2-0 at the Bernabeau.
Flamini to fight Milan spot
AC Milan defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini is determined to stay and fight for his place at the club despite failing to establish himself as a regular.
Flamini joined the Serie A giants from Arsenal at the beginning of last season, having only forced his way into the Arsenal midfield in his fourth season at the club after joining from Marseille at the age of 20. The combative midfielder has lost his place in the France squad since arriving at the San Siro but and most of his appearances for AC Milan have come from the bench as coach Leonardo has often preferred veterans Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso to add muscle to the guile of Andrea Pirlo in Milan’s midfield.