Chelsea showed their superiority at the Reebok Stadium with a Frank Lampard-inspired 5-1 win against a struggling Bolton Wanderers side on Sunday afternoon. Lampard netted a hat-trick while former Bolton loanee Daniel Sturridge added the other two, with Owen Coyle’s men replying through a Dedryck Boyata header early in the second-half.
Bolton stay bottom of the Premier League table, while in contrast Chelsea stay in third, just behind the two Manchester sides. The gulf in class showed throughout – bar a short but spirited period in the second-half when Bolton threatened a comeback – and while Lampard was brilliant, stand-in Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan suffered a horrific afternoon.
With the reliable Jussi Jaaskelainen out injured, Coyle turned to the 24 year old Hungarian to keep the Blues at bay. Inside two minutes, he had already conceded. Juan Mata curled in a corner which an unmarked Sturridge met, and the striker confidently headed home.
Chelsea continued to dominate in the opening proceedings, and when Lampard converted a pass from Sturridge after fifteen minutes, the 2-0 lead was exactly what the visitors deserved.
A previous variant of Chelsea may have settled for the pair, but, smelling blood, particularly around Bolton’s left-back area where the sluggish Paul Robinson was given a torrid time by Sturridge, Andres Villas-Boas’ charges continued to twist the knife.
Sturridge was at the heart of Chelsea’s third goal, shooting ambitiously after cutting in from the right-wing. His shot had power and precision, but Bogdan can have no excuses for his failure to save the effort, as he was beaten at his near post after getting weak hands to the ball. Sturridge refused to celebrate a goal against the club who invaluably built up his confidence and reputation with regular starts last season, but it may have also been a gesture borne out of embarrassment as well as nobility.
Bogdan then further cemented his place as Bolton’s number two goalkeeper by poorly parrying a long-distance effort by David Luiz straight into the path of Lampard, who needed no further invitation to add to his and Chelsea’s tally for the day. White-shirted Bolton fans made their way towards the exits for a premature half-time break; Bogdan’s face matched the colour of his striking red hair. 27 minutes gone: Bolton 0-4 Chelsea.
The whistle upon 45 minutes must have come as a welcome relief for Bolton’s shellshocked players, but the restart brought at least a little joy, as the Blues set-piece woes continued for another game at least. Martin Petrov whipped in a free-kick which an unmarked Boyata met to the cheers of the Bolton fans, who noisily continued to hope for an unlikely comeback throughout the majority of the second period.
Bolton did run Chelsea ragged for a short while too, prompting a change from the sidelines as the impressively attacking Jose Bosingwa was replaced by the solidly dependable Branislav Ivanovic.
Chelsea held on though, and managed to regroup and increase their lead. A neat passing move – beginning with Petr Cech – culminated in Didier Drogba – in the side following Fernando Torres’ suspension – finding Lampard in the box. Lampard in the box, particularly against Bolton, rarely misses too.
When Lampard completed his hat-trick, he held up three fingers towards the travelling Chelsea fans. With his cool finish, he emphatically held up two fingers to his recent critics.
Bolton had a late chance cleared off the line by Ivanovic, but the afternoon was all about the compelling Chelsea, the legendary Lampard, and the beleaguered Bolton.