In my years of supporting Chelsea there have been many times that we play well in one half, but not the other. Today was added to the list. I don’t mind these kind of days though as long as we end up with the right result. Today we got the right result.
Due to the fact that Carlo Cudicini got injured in training during the week and Neil Sullivan got a thigh strain in the reserves game at Portsmouth, we had our third choice keeper Marco Ambrosio in goal today. Marco had only played one game this season, that was our 4-2 Carling Cup victory over Notts County at Stamford Bridge last September. A lot of Chelsea fans, including myself, didn’t have too much faith in Ambrosio because of a couple of mistakes in that game. Today however, we saw a different keeper. A keeper who made some crucial saves in the first half.
I have to apologise to Marco as I didn’t have a great deal of faith in him, but today he made me change my mind. During the first half he made two great saves from Okocha, he looked very confident and didn’t make any mistakes in the whole 90 minutes. For a Premiership debut it was a very good one for us to see.
Before the saves by Okocha, a foul by Gronkjaer on Charlton in the 11th minute led to a long ball being played forward by Bolton, Pederson latched onto it and hit a low shot that beat Ambrosio, hit the inside of the post, rolled across goal and out for a goal kick. That was a major scare, but the luck again was on our side. In the first half we were finding it hard to pass the ball around, the pitch didn’t help as it wasn’t the best. When we got the ball we were finding it difficult to keep. In the 39th minute, Frank Lampard lost the ball to Kevin Davies but again another chance for Bolton went begging as Davies shot wide. We went into half time drawing 0-0. Our defence though was superb as usual, all the long balls that Bolton launched into the box were dealt with, something that in the past may not have happened. A Hernan Crespo deft header was the only shot we had on target that didn’t trouble Jaaskelainen in the first half.
In the second half we began to play and keep the ball. In the 50th minute a great Frank Lampard shot was touched over by Jaaskelainen, it was the start that we wanted and it gave the players some confidence. Five minutes later a Geremi shot just went wide. It always seemed as though Chelsea would nick something in the second half, we withstood a lot of pressure in the first half, the defence was resolute and Ambrosio certainly played his part.
Hernan Crespo was substituted on 65 minutes for Joe Cole, we may criticise Ranieri for tinkering but Cole swung the game our way in my opinion. The Bolton fans gave Joe a lot of stick because of his sending off at Bolton last season for West Ham, but Joe did all he could to help us to victory.
In the 70th minute our first goal came from John Terry. JT scored the own goal that helped Bolton beat us in December at Stamford Bridge. Today JT ran out of defence after helping to win the ball. The ball was played out wide and a low cross from Damien Duff was flicked on by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, the ball found JT running into the box and he coolly side footed it with power into the back of the Bolton net, A fantastic goal.
We always talk about JT, but he is true class, he is a born winner and it’s great that he wears the Chelsea Blue. Jimmy played his part in our second goal too a few minutes later. Bolton were on the attack, but this was broken up, the ball was played out wide on the right Jimmy crossed the ball into the box and found Damien Duff who knocked the ball in with the help of Jaaskelainen. 0-2 and it was time to celebrate and relax!
Joe Cole almost made it 0-3 in the 82nd minute, however, the ball was knocked off of the line by Simon Charlton after a great run by Joe. The ball could have been knocked right for Jimmy to slot the ball in for his 100th Premiership goal, but Cole wanted to wrap it up and it would have been a great way to have finished the game. It was great to see Joe contributing, maybe even proving to Claudio Ranieri that he deserves a first team place, especially with the Champions League game against Arsenal on the horizon.
In the 85th minute Okocha had another shot that Marco Ambrosio got his body behind again. A great performance by Ambrosio and our defence during the 90 minutes. In the late stages Robert Huth replaced Jesper Gronkjaer and Scott Parker replaced Damien Duff. A great result for Chelsea and our first in Bolton since Clive Walker saved us from relegation to the old third division in 1983.
The win leaves us six points behind Arsenal as I write this and three points ahead of Man Utd. A great, solid performance today. A confidence booster for everyone.
Champions League We’re Having A Laugh!
Team: Ambrosio, Bridge, Desailly, Terry, Gallas, Duff, Lampard, Geremi, Gronkjaer, Crespo, Hasselbaink.