BLUES END LEAGUE SEASON IN STYLE
Chelsea 4-0 Derby
FA Carling Premiership
Chelsea warmed up for next Saturday's FA Cup final in fine style by producing a devastating second half performance to guarantee victory over Jim Smith's Derby side.
Gianluca Vialli opted only to rest goalkeeper Ed de Goey - an ever-present in the Premiership until the final day of the season - picking an otherwise full strength Blues side.
The only blemish on the day was the sight of Spanish right back Albert Ferrer, back after missing five games with an ankle injury, limping off after only 30 minutes and French centre-back Marcel Desailly was also withdrawn in the second half with a similar complaint.
Chelsea chairman Ken Bates showed he has faith in his manager by putting an arm round the Italian's shoulder on a lap of honour. No doubt both would like to be doing the same at Wembley next weekend - only holding a certain cup in their hands as well.
After the pains and strains of avoiding the drop, Derby looked a shattered side and were lucky the score wasn't higher as Chelsea wasted a number of first half chances as they cruised to only their second win in seven matches.
However, the home fans were made to wait until two minutes after half-time when Gianfranco Zola dug out a shot from under his feet to score from a Gus Poyet cross.
The prolific scoring midfielder Poyet then grabbed his 18th goal of the season with a flashing near post header from a corner. Roberto Di Matteo fired in the third after a Dennis Wise pass put him through with twenty minutes left.
Ferrer's replacement, Dutchman Mario Melchiot, then set up Tore Andre Flo to cheekily back-heel the fourth - and his 19th of the season - in the last minute past Mart Poom.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferrer (Melchiot 32), Desailly (Terry 57), Leboeuf,
Babayaro, Di Matteo, Wise, Deschamps, Poyet (Ambrosetti 64), Flo, Zola.
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Morris.
Booked: Di Matteo.
Goals: Zola 47, Poyet 55, Di Matteo 69, Flo 90.
Derby: Poom, Delap (Jackson 64), Laursen, Elliott (Riggott 56), Dorigo,
Burley, Bohinen (Murray 64), Johnson, Sturridge, Burton, Christie.
Subs Not Used: Oakes, Boertien.
Ref: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).