BOLTON, England, Jan 24, 2011 (AFP) - Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Ramires were all on target as Chelsea ended their miserable run of away form with a 4-0 victory at Bolton here on Monday to keep alive their dim hopes of the Premier League title.
Carlo Ancelotti's side had fallen away from contention for the title with a record of one win in nine matches but they have now won their past eight matches at the Reebok Stadium without conceding a goal.
|Chelsea's Florent Malouda celebrates scoring against Bolton Wanderers on January 24, 2011. AFP|
Victory moved them up to fourth and to within seven points of leaders Manchester United, who travel to Blackpool on Tuesday which continued the poor run of Owen Coyle's side, who have now suffered four defeats in their last five matches in a damaging run of form and are just eight points above the bottom three.
Drogba gave Chelsea an early lead with his 10th of the season and Frenchman Malouda equalled that tally with a second goal just before half time.
Anelka then added a third goal, his 13th of the campaign, shortly after half time before Ramires scored a fourth, his first goal for the club.
Having put on celebrations of the life of recently-deceased club legend Nat Lofthouse before the match, Bolton's players were determined to put on a strong performance and Kevin Davies forced an early save from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech as the hosts did all the early pressing.
But Chelsea took the lead with their first real attack with 10 minutes gone.
Malouda pounced on a hesitant Gretar Steinsson and fed Drogba, who drove a powerful shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen from just outside the area.
Ramires also drove over from long range as Chelsea looked for a second before Bolton's Gary Cahill headed wide from a free kick from Stuart Holden.
Chelsea still looked stronger going forward and Anelka almost got on the end of a long ball forward from Cech.
But Jaaskelainen did well to keep the advantage at one goal when Drogba thumped a shot at his near post after another fine throughball from Malouda.
The Chelsea chances continued, with John Obi Mikel slipping the ball through for Anelka, whose shot was blocked by a sliding challenge from Zat Knight.
Bolton threatened just before the break when Johan Elmander got on the end of a Davies flick only for his prod at goal to be pushed wide by Cech.
Chelsea continued to dictate play after the half time break, with Michael Essien wasting a good chance to send Anelka through again after another swift attack.
An effort from Martin Petrov from almost 30 yards hinted at the growing frustration of the home team.
But 10 minutes after half time, Chelsea punished Bolton with a ruthless break.
Essien found space down the left and although Knight beat Drogba to the Ghanaian's cross, Anelka's low shot had enough power to beat Jaaskelainen.
Bolton's night was all but over but substitute Mark Davies almost got on the end of a return pass from Elmander as he looked to reduce the deficit.
But the hosts knew they were always struggling to make any impression and after Anelka's shot was blocked from Essien's cross, Ramires steered a fourth goal past Jaaskelainen.
Chelsea could even have had a late penalty when Anelka went down in the area under a heavy challenge from Bolton defender Paul Robinson.
But the visitors were able to conserve their energy for their FA Cup trip to Everton at the weekend by coasting through the final stages.