Ancelotti plays down talk of title

BLACKPOOL, England, March 7, 2011 (AFP) - Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti did his best to pour cold water on the idea his side are back in the Premier League title race after Monday's 3-1 victory over relegation-threatened Blackpool.

Goals from captain John Terry and a double from Frank Lampard - the first a penalty - helped Chelsea to a win against the hard working home side, who pulled a late consolation goal back through Jason Puncheon.

The win closes the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester United to nine points with a game in hand but the Stamford Bridge manager is uninterested in any talk of retaining the title.

"We have to prepare the next game and go game by game," he said.

"It is too far to think we can fight for the title, it is better for us to go game by game - that makes it easier for us.

"It was a good performance and an important result.

"Salomon Kalou helped us a lot and played very well. Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba played well overall, they were dangerous and I think they played a good game."

Contrary to Ancelotti's opinion, Torres and Drogba appeared on different wavelengths for vast parts of this contest yet the Chelsea manager has faith that Torres can soon start to justify his £50million price tag.

Chelsea's midfielder Florent Malouda (R) vies with Blackpool's defender Neal Eardley during the match. AFP

"It is important that he works for the team and he is doing that," he said.

"He will improve and score. I think that they played well as a good combination. We are happy with his performance and he will score. It is not a problem."

Lampard too preferred to downplay title talk.

"I don't know if we've been given a second chance in the title race," said Lampard, whose absence through injury this season has affected Chelsea's form.

"It's too early to say and we're still behind. But it's nice to be looking upwards rather than fighting to be top four - though we still have a battle to make sure we do that."

Neither side wrested control of the game until Chelsea took the lead after 20 minutes through Terry as he headed home Lampard's corner.

For Blackpool, Puncheon‘s low effort hit the post after 33 minutes as Petr Cech let the ball slip through his grasp.

However, the Chelsea keeper did show his undoubted class a minute later as Blackpool poured forward again and Ian Evatt's fine effort forced him into a brilliant fingertip save.

After the break, Drogba's recent barren spell continued as he made way within 10 minutes of the restart for Salomon Kalou after another performance that suggested he and Torres have an awful lot of work to do if they are to build a profitable attacking relationship.

In fact, Kalou showed Ancelotti more than enough after coming on to underline that he deserves more of a chance at Stamford Bridge as he had a hand in both of the goals Chelsea scored in quickfire succession.

Firstly, he was fouled in the area by Evatt which allowed Lampard to convert from 12 yards out before Kalou played Lampard through on goal four minutes later and the Chelsea midfielder calmly slotted past Richard Kingson to make it 3-0.

Blackpool tried manfully to give their fans something to smile about and Puncheon did just that with five minutes left as he grabbed one back with a fine left foot shot effort but it was too little too late.

"It showed the quality they have got - and you would hope so after spending £300million," said Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, whose side are sixth from bottom only two points above third from bottom Birmingham, who have two games in hand.

"I feel we should have been closer to them and we needed something to go our way. We needed shots to go in because it is a big ask without Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell. We need the second goal in the game but they got it.

"I thought we had a really good spell going up to half-time and then they go and get three.

"Their third goal completely nailed us. When David is swinging his swing at Goliath, you need to hit him straight in the forehead but we missed. But we didn't stop swinging and I'm pleased about that."

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