Chelsea notched up three more Premiership points with a convincing win against Bolton on a bright winter’s day at the Bridge. Perhaps the cold weather is the reason why the Chelsea engine took a while to tick over before kicking in properly. Nolan struck first for the visitors when a left-wing cross found him unmarked in the area and his well-angled header beat Cudicini’s dive and found the net.
Anyone who decided to beat the half-time toilet queues by nipping out five minutes early will have missed the comeback that had until then seemed about as likely as Ken Bates cutting ticket prices to celebrate Christmas. The equaliser came when the Bolton defence presented the ball to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. With three defenders bearing down on the Dutchman, he squared the ball to an unmarked Eidur Gudjohnsen who struck a low shot into the bottom corner of the goal from the edge of the box.
Gudjohnsen returned the favour to Hasselbaink moments later, again after the Bolton defence had surrendered possession, slipping a ball to JFH inside the area. He rifled home a ferocious left-foot drive to send Chelsea in at the interval with a 2-1 lead.
Boudewijn Zenden added a third goal in the second half, his first since the opening day of the season. After losing and regaining possession on the left wing, he hit a perfect lob over the goalkeeper’s head and underneath the crossbar. Colin Hendry scored the fourth when he converted Sam Dalla Bona’s attempt to find Gudjohnsen in the area.
The Icelander was later replaced by Gianfranco Zola, who had his name sung all around the ground while he waited to come on. Gudjohnsen, similarly adored by the fans of his former employers, was even applauded off the field by the away end. Albert Ferrer also received a rapturous welcome when he came on as a late substitute for Graeme Le Saux and Emmanuel Petit, returning from injury, replaced Zenden, who looked like he may have picked up an injury.
Zola set up the final goal with a back-heel into the path of Frank Lampard, cutting inside from the left, who scored with a fine shot from outside the penalty area. Lampard clearly enjoyed scoring his first Premiership goal for the club, judging by his joyous celebration, as did the crowd.
The win leaves Chelsea six points off the league leaders Newcastle (that really doesn’t sound right) going into the Christmas fixtures. Away matches at Arsenal and Newcastle in the space of four days will really show whether Chelsea are genuine Championship challengers.