Chelsea climbed into second place in the Premier League as Didier Drogba inspired the champions to a 3-1 victory over Birmingham.
Despite Carlo Ancelotti writing off his side’s chances of retaining their crown, the Blues now sit 6 points behind Manchester United, who still have to go to Arsenal, and host Chelsea this term.
It was a brace from Florent Malouda and wonderful solo goal from Salomon Kalou that saw off Alex McLeish’s side, but the real praise has to go to Drogba who worked tirelessly and constantly terrorised the visitors.
The Ivorian played a crucial part in the first goal, flicking on a Paulo Ferreira cross to give Malouda a tap in after just three minutes. It came after a glorious cross field ball from John Terry had picked out the Portuguese, as Chelsea awoke from their slumber after a sloppy opening couple of minutes.
The Blues continued to create chances, with Drogba twice testing City keeper Ben Foster from distance, whilst Frank Lampard curled one just past the post from 25 yards.
At the other end John Terry pulled off a great last ditch tackle to prevent Aleksander Hleb from getting a sight of goal, before Cameron Jerome forced a good save out of Petr Cech at his near post.
However on 26 minutes the champions extended their lead with a piece of fine individual skill from Salomon Kalou.
The Ivorian winger has his critics at the Bridge but there was nothing wrong with this finish as he beat two defenders before curling home via the inside of the post. Ben Foster did not move.
Twice more before the break Drogba threatened, frustrating Chelsea fans more than anything. Why can’t he be this unplayable every week?
When in this mood there are few better in world football at causing havoc and motivating those around him.
Into the second half and the champions wrapped up the points just after the hour mark, substitute Ryan Bertrand’s cross was headed home by Malouda, before Terry saw his header saved, and another mazy Drogba run resulted in only a corner.
Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka came off the bench as Chelsea changed shape with the game won, but this had a negative effect as Birmingham were able to get a foot hold in the game.
David Luiz then provided his now customary one mistake per game when he naively tripped Derbyshire in the box. Sebastian Larsson dispatched the penalty after a minor tiff with Craig Gardner over who should take it.
City could’ve even had a second late on but Derbyshire rushed his shot and fired wide when in space.
But all in all a convincing win for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who are still in with an outside chance of retaining their title following Arsenal and United’s draws this week. A 100% between now and the end of the season is a must if there are to put up a fight, and given the way this Premier League season has unfolded, there could still be a few twists left to come.
For all we know Torres could score the winner at Old Trafford, hand us the title and be hailed a bargain. Stranger things have happened; Theo Walcott scored tonight …
Chelsea; Cech, Cole (Bertrand 56), Luiz, Ferreira, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Mikel, Malouda (Anelka 67), Drogba, Kalou (Torres 67)
Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Ridgewell, Parnaby, Larsson, Gardner, Ferguson, Fahey, Hleb, Jerome
Man of the Match: Didier Drogba