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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE: Anelka double puts Chelsea on top
London, Nov 9 (Agencies):
Published on 10 Nov. 2008 12:38 AM IST
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Nicolas Anelka continued his fine start to the season with a brace as Chelsea marched back to the top of the Premier League with a win at a wet Ewood Park. In a one-sided first half, only keeper Paul Robinson kept Rovers in it, saving well from Anelka and Jon Obi Mikel. However, he could do little when Anelka deflected in Jose Bosingwa’s drive. Rovers rallied in the second half, Petr Cech saving from Jason Roberts having earlier denied Carlos Villanueva, but Anelka clipped in a second to seal it. It was the ideal response from Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men following victories for title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal on Saturday, and ensured the Brazilian would be able to enjoy his 60th birthday with another three points in the bag. However, it was far from plain sailing for the visitors after Rovers shook off a pretty desperate opening half with a gritty, determined second 45 that kept Chelsea firmly on their toes. Many Blackburn fans may have feared the worst when they saw Paul Ince had opted to deploy Roberts in a lone striking role in the absence of Benni McCarthy (ban) and Roque Santa Cruz (calf) - frustrate and counter was clearly the manager’s gameplan. And in the first half, it certainly didn’t work. As early as the fifth minute Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Anelka latched on to Keith Andrews’s woeful backpass only to fall over Robinson’s leg with the goal at his mercy, but the appeals were waved away. On a brief counter minutes earlier, Carlos Villanueva had forced an equally smart save from Petr Cech with a curled drive, but it was the only chance of any note for Rovers fans to cheer in the first 45. But, with standing water gathering on the pitch under the heavy rain, a half-time inspection took place before referee Chris Foy gave the all-clear to continue - and Rovers came out with a new lease of life at the restart. Striker Matt Derbyshire’s introduction ensured Chelsea finally had something to think about in defence, with Villanueva given more freedom to express himself and the substitute attacking from wide. It led to a period of sustained Blackburn pressure, with Cech again forced into action when Roberts got free in the box, the Czech smothering his snap-shot. Villanueva also blazed wide of the target on a couple of occasions as the Blues fought to wrestle back the initiative but, just as Rovers looked capable of a leveller, Anelka put the game beyond them. Anelka broke through for a hat-trick chance late in the closing stages but Robinson got down well to save and ensure a deserved semblance of respectability for the home side. Other league results Aston Villa 1-2 Middlesbrough Man City 1-2 Tottenham

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