Mata lifts Chelsea's spirits
London - Chelsea winger Juan Mata gave under-fire boss Andre Villas-Boas the perfect tonic as his superb display inspired a comfortable 3-0 win over Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Villas-Boas has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks following Chelsea's woeful run and some reports claimed he could be sacked by owner Roman Abramovich despite only joining the club from Porto in the close-season.
Abramovich responded by insisting the 34-year-old would be allowed time to build a team capable of winning the Champions League.
But after three defeats from their last four league games and a Champions League loss at Bayer Leverkusen, this much-needed victory - secured thanks to goals from John Terry, Daniel Sturridge and the majestic Mata -- went someway to easing the pressure on Villas-Boas.
There were two changes from the side that succumbed to defeat in Germany with Ashley Cole returning in place of Jose Bosingwa while Frank Lampard was dropped to the bench for Oriol Romeu.
Wolves have struggled of late as their manager Mick McCarthy has also seen his position come under scrutiny.
And the former Republic of Ireland coach was left furious after a mistake from Nenad Milijas allowed Chelsea to take a sixth minute lead.
The Serbian was dispossessed in midfield by Ramires, whose shot was tipped around the post by Wayne Hennessey.
Then from the resulting corner Terry headed home unmarked from Mata's delivery as Villas-Boas and the majority of Stamford Bridge breathed a sigh of relief.
Villas-Boas was made to feel even better when Sturridge scored a second in the 29th minute to finish a neat move.
Cole fed Raul Meireles who teed up Mata. He danced his way into the box and crossed for Sturridge, who poked home from close range.
The England striker then had an effort from 25-yards that drew another good save from Hennessey.
Soon after McCarthy had substituted the ineffective Milijas but the change did little good for Wolves, as Mata made it 3-0 just before half-time when he stroked home from Cole's cross after Wolves had failed to clear their lines.
The visitors, who were toothless in the opening 45 minutes, looked marginally better after the break, although only briefly as Stephen Ward went close.
But they almost paid a price for throwing players forward as Sturridge surged down the other end only to be denied by Roger Johnson.
Hennessey then made two excellent saves in quick succession to deny Sturridge and Mata.
Chelsea sensed this match was over and Villas-Boas introduced Lampard. But the home fans started chanting the name of 50 million striker Fernando Torres.
And the Spain international was given a little under 15 minutes to impress as he replaced Didier Drogba.
The former Liverpool man looked lively and had a curling effort that was plucked out of the air by the impressive Hennessey, who did not really deserve to be on the losing side after this performance.