Belfast Telegraph

Malouda strike enough for Chelsea

A Chelsea player ended a three-and-a-half month goal drought but it was not Fernando Torres as Florent Malouda sealed an ugly 1-0 win over Wigan.

Malouda drove home through a crowd of players with 23 minutes remaining to ensure the stuttering Barclays Premier League champions moved back into third place, two points clear of Manchester City.

But Torres' misery continued, the Spaniard flopping again in front of goal after coming off the bench for the final half-hour against a Wigan side who remain rooted to the foot of the table.

Didier Drogba was Chelsea's only real outlet and he created what should have been a first-minute opener when Frank Lampard and Ramires both mis-kicked his cross.

With captain John Terry rested, the home side's defence also had its wobbles, with Charles N'Zogbia controversially flagged offside after being put clean through by Ben Watson.

Carlo Ancelotti tried to freshen things up at half-time by sending on the fit-again Yossi Benayoun for his first appearance since September in place of Mikel.

Nicolas Anelka was withdrawn for Torres with just over half an hour remaining, but it was Drogba who almost made the breakthrough with a deflected free-kick tipped over by Ali Al Habsi.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 67th minute when Torres prevented Al Habsi claiming David Luiz's flick-on from Drogba's corner and Malouda drilled home through a crowd of players.

Torres went agonisingly close to getting on the end of Drogba's cross before failing to control a long ball which went straight through to Al Habsi. Alex made his first appearance since November, coming on for Paulo Ferreira for the final 15 minutes.

Torres looked certain to score after Benayoun put the ball on a plate with a minute remaining but his strike was palmed behind by Al Habsi.


From Belfast Telegraph