Chelsea 3-1 Wimbledon

By Mark Wiltshire

Chelsea, frustrated for 79 minutes by a well disciplined Wimbledon side, extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine matches after coming from behind to win convincingly and keep alive their slim title hopes but condemn the Dons to further relegation worries.

A timid Wimbledon had taken a shock lead thanks to a close range effort from new signing Andreas Lund in the 73rd minute. But Chelsea took a leaf out of their visitors book and equalised six minutes later after adopting the long-ball tactic that allowed Gustavo Poyet (pictured) to volley spectacularly home.

George Weah then headed his third goal for Chelsea with ten minutes remaining before a last minute Jody Morris strike put the icing on the cake.

Gianluca Viallis side are now just one point behind third placed Arsenal but they made to work very hard for these three points as Wimbledons plan of sitting back and soaking up the pressure had contributed to a fairly dull London derby.

Egil Olsen had no hesitation in giving new 2.8million signing Andreas Lund his debut in this London derby. The Norwegian striker, who joined from Molde in midweek, made an immediate impression jumping for a high ball in the first minute with Emerson Thome but only made connection with the Brazilians head.

It was the home side who created the first real opening after nine minutes when Hermann Hreidarsson had to be alert to flick the ball off Gustavo Poyets toes after Didier Deschamp had spotted the Uruguayan in space.

One minute later, Lund again showed further signs of how useful an asset he could be for Wimbledon as they struggle to avoid slipping into the relegation zone when his diving header from a Martin Andresen cross flashed wide.

The introduction of Frank Leboeuf, returning to the team in place of fellow Frenchman Marcel Desailly, was the only change to the team that beat Spurs last week. He partnered Thome in the heart of a Chelsea defence that has conceded fewer goals at home than any other club in league football.

For a team that have kept just six clean sheets in their last 44 games, Wimbledons defence looked secure and very assured when operating the offside trap which constantly caught out George Weah.

In a match bereft of creation and sparkle, it seemed a waste to see Gianfranco Zola warming up on the touchline. After appearing for the reserves in midweek at Kingstonian, the gifted Italian was itching to get on and prove to his manager that he still has a future at Stamford Bridge in the first team.

Chelsea thought they had a legitimate claim for a penalty when Deschamps played in Dan Petrescu who went down right on the edge of the penalty area under Hreidarsson's challenge but referee Peter Jones waved away the protests.

This spurred the home side on who had burst into life just before the interval, pilling on the pressure in the Wimbledon area. It culminated in a Frank Leboeuf header from a Jon Harley corner but it was Wimbledon who really should have taken the lead.

The normally dependable Robbie Earle was guilty of lacking conviction in his volley that was easily dealt with by Chelseas only ever-present Premiership player this season, Ed De Goey.

Lund, booked in first half stoppage time for a challenge on Leboeuf, was rewarded for his brave and often lonely performance up-front with seventeen minutes left.

An Alan Kimble free-kick wasn't cleared by Dennis Wise and it allowed Neil Ardley to pump it back into the penalty area where Carl Cort knocked it down for Lund to pounce from six-yards and fire into the top corner.

But the Dons lead lasted only five minutes as Chelsea came from behind to win for the first time this season. Thome's route one ball was headed on by Weah into the path of Poyet who fired a thunderous volley from 25-yards.

Zola was eventually given his chance to shine in the 62nd minute and was instrumental in setting up Chris Sutton. And he was also involved in Chelsea's second goal, combining with fellow substitute Jody Morris who crossed for Weah to simply yet devastatingly head home.

Lund came close to grabbing an equaliser but Wimbledon's hopes were eventually killed off in the final minute when a Harley corner was cleared only as far as Morris who rifled home a 20-yard effort.

Chelsea: De Goey, Lambourde, Thome, Leboeuf, Harley, Petrescu (Zola 63), Deschamps (Flo 71), Wise, Poyet, Sutton (Morris 71), Weah.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Clement.
Goals: Poyet 79, Weah 79, Morris 90.

Wimbledon: Sullivan, Cunningham, Andersen, Hreidarsson, Kimble, Willmott, Earle (Francis 84), Euell, Cort, Lund, Andresen (Ardley 68).
Subs Not Used: Heald, Leaburn, Badir.
Booked: Lund, Andersen.
Goals: Lund 73.

Att: 34,826
Ref: P Jones (Loughborough).