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Hiddink enjoys Bridge farewell

2009-05-17 19:10

London - Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink enjoyed a winning farewell to Stamford Bridge as goals from Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka clinched a 2-0 win over Blackburn on Sunday.

Hiddink was taking charge of his last home match before resuming his role as Russia coach on a full-time basis after the FA Cup final against Everton on May 30.

The Dutchman has one more league game at Sunderland next week before that Wembley date, but this was his final appearance at the Bridge and Chelsea's players and fans gave him a rousing send-off.

Malouda struck early in the first half with a bullet header and Anelka put the result beyond doubt just before the hour.

Although Chelsea still have a chance of snatching second place from Liverpool, they are likely to finish outside the top two for the first time since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

But Hiddink takes no blame for that after revitalising a team in danger of missing out on the Champions League places altogether when he replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari in February.

He has lost just one of his 12 league games and was within seconds of leading the Blues to the Champions League final before Barcelona's agonising late goal.

Hiddink's side took the lead in the fourth minute. Portugal right-back Jose Bosingwa started the move as he surged into the Blackburn half before spreading play to Anelka on the right wing.

Anelka's cross was perfectly measured for Malouda, who timed his run to perfection and powered a superb header past Paul Robinson.

A second Chelsea goal looked on the cards moments later when Ashley Cole galloped clear down the left and centred to Anelka, but Robinson produced a fine stop with his legs.

Lampard went even closer when he met Anelka's cross with a first-time shot that cannoned back off the crossbar.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce left South African forward Benni McCarthy on the bench and persisted with towering defender Christopher Samba as a lone battering ram.

But Samba's lacking of goal-scoring instinct was illustrated all too clearly when he met Vince Grella's cross with a tame header that drifted over from close-range.

Bosingwa blotted his copybook when he earned a booking after a theatrical dive as he went past Stephen Warnock.

It wasn't as though Chelsea needed to resort to the game's dark arts. They were creating chances at will and New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen was at full stretch to foil Malouda with a goalline clearance after the winger chipped over Robinson.

Michael Essien was the victim of an eye-watering challenge by Australian midfielder Grella that caught the Ghanian below the stomach, but he was quickly back on his feet.

Blackburn, whose safety was secured by other results on Saturday, suffered a blow when Nelsen limped off before half-time.

The Chelsea faithful sang Hiddink's name at the start of the second half and he got to his feet and bowed to all four sides of the stadium in response.

Hiddink should have had another goal to celebrate when Lampard drilled a low cross towards the far post, where Malouda somehow contrived to hook the ball straight back at Robinson.

He didn't have to wait long. In the 59th minute, Drogba laid off to Anelka, who drove a low shot past Robinson to move level with Cristiano Ronaldo on 18 goals in the race to finish as the Premier League's top scorer.

Drogba and Anelka were close to increasing Chelsea's lead but the Blues had already done enough to show their appreciation to Hiddink.

AFP