English Premiership

Chelsea see off Rovers

2012-05-13 19:07
John Terry (File)

London - Chelsea will head off to the Champions League final in good heart after rounding off their Premier League campaign with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge.

First-half goals from John Terry and Raul Meireles - both suspended for the meeting with Bayern Munich - put Roberto Di Matteo's side in control.

Ayegbeni Yakubu's second-half strike briefly gave relegated Blackburn hope they might end a disastrous season with an unexpected point but their efforts quickly faded.

That allowed Chelsea to run down the clock without exerting themselves as they secured a sixth place finish - ensuring they must win the Champions League to secure a place in next season's competition.

With victory assured, the only concern for Blues caretaker manager Di Matteo was the injury sustained by Florent Malouda in the first half.

The midfielder was withdrawn with a minor hamstring injury and Di Matteo will hope the France international recovers quickly.

This was a game both sides would have happily done without.

Chelsea's minds are understandably elsewhere while Blackburn's relegation last week meant the end of the season couldn't come quickly enough.

Di Matteo's team sheet reflected the fact that in terms of personnel, this was an exercise in damage limitation ahead of the trip to Munich.

Terry and Meireles were joined by Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic, the other two members of Di Matteo's squad who will watch from the stands in the Allianz Arena.

Of the other seven starters, only Malouda, Daniel Sturridge and Michael Essien had any chance of forcing the manager into a change of plan before next Saturday.

For Blackburn, goalkeeper Jake Kean was given his debut in place of injured Paul Robinson and Rovers attempted to sign off from the Premier League on a high. It quickly because apparent there was little chance of that happening.

Jason Lowe saw an early sot tipped over but that was the last meaningful attack from the visitors as Chelsea confirmed they were intent of rounding off the domestic campaign in style.

The opening goal came when Romelu Lukaku drifted out of the central striker position to deliver a 31st minute cross that was met with a powerful header from Terry.

Three minutes later Meireles looked as though he had made the game safe when he converted after good work by Essien.

The Ghana midfielder has struggled to find anything like his best form since returning from a serious knee injury earlier this season.

But he created the second goal with a powerful run off the right hand flank and into the area before squaring the ball to Meireles who drove a low shot beyond Kean from the edge of the area.

Di Matteo surprisingly introduced Didier Drogba early on in the second half and the home crowd immediately made it clear they want the forward to remain at the club.

Drogba is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations about a new deal have so far stalled with the club unwilling to meet the 34-year-old's demands for a two-year deal.

Blackburn forced their way back into the game on the hour when Yakubu halved the deficit.

The Nigeria forward has been one of Blackburn's few success stories this season and he netted his 17th goal of the season when he diverted Scott Dann's header home after Morten Gamst Pedersen had delivered a corner from the left flank.

There was little risk of Rovers forcing a second goal and Di Matteo introduced Fernando Torres to increase the pressure on the visitors.

Ramires came close to adding a third with a lob from outside the area after a poor Blackburn clearance.

Read more on:    english premier league  |  soccer


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