Blackburn Rovers 0  Chelsea 0  (Sky Sports)

Dour Draw Leaves Both Sides Frustrated

Frank Lampard fights for the ball

Blackburn 0-0 Chelsea
FA Barclaycard Premiership

Blackburn still face an anxious bid to beat the drop after failing to stretch their run of successive Ewood Park victories against a Chelsea side again struggling to find a cure for their latest dose of away-day blues.

Graeme Souness' side should have made it four in a row at home, but were forced to settle for a draw which leaves them languishing in 17th in the Premiership, and just three points above the relegation zone.

The point, though, was good enough for Chelsea to see them leapfrog Newcastle back into the vital fourth place which carries with it Champions League football next season, although the Magpies have two matches in hand.

While Chelsea can look forward to continental action of some description, the question is whether Claudio Ranieri will be at Stamford Bridge next season to oversee such a campaign.

On this occasion they were indebted to goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini for ensuring they suffered nothing worse than this goalless clash. The Italian needed to be at his best as Blackburn looked like a side which had won their previous three home games, and far from a team embroiled in a relegation scrap.

In a thoroughly-entertaining encounter, Cudicini was helped by his post early on as Andy Cole _ returning after a three-match ban for his stamp on Bolton's Mike Whitlow _ struck the outside of the woodwork, albeit from an almost-impossibly acute angle.

But then the Italian superbly blocked a powerful Damien Duff drive, while later in the half he was at full stretch in pushing away a 15-yard shot with the outside of his right boot from Lucas Neill. Duff was again denied by arguably the best save of the game early in the second half when the Republic of Ireland star struck an angled screamer from 12 yards, only for Cudicini to somehow keep out a shot destined for the top right-hand corner.

Tugay, who last played against Chelsea for Galatasaray in a 5-0 Champions League thrashing, was within a whisker of gaining sweet revenge after Cudicini had fisted clear a cracking cross from Neill from the right-hand edge of the area.But in sending back a first-timer from 22 yards with his right foot, the ball was within inches of the right-hand post as Blackburn appeared the team more likely to break the deadlock.

But Rovers could not break through, although Chelsea were not without their chances, with Eidur Gudjohnsen having the first of the game after seven minutes. But the Iceland international, like Tugay, was within a whisker of scoring as his fierce left-foot shot flashed past Brad Friedel and the woodwork from 20 yards.

Friedel was indebted to Stig Inge Bjornebye whipping the ball off the toes of Mario Stanic midway through the first half after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's goal-line pull back had fizzed past the American and through the six-yard box to the far post.

It was a fumble by Friedel three minutes after the break which gave Chelsea their best opportunity as Gudjohnsen was onto the rebound following Hasselbaink's drive, but after a touch to cut inside Craig Short, he then scooped the ball over with his weaker right foot. In the end, neither side will have been happy ending the game honours even.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Short, Berg, Bjornebye, Gillespie, Dunn, Tugay, Duff, Jansen, Cole.
Subs Not Used: Flitcroft, Johansson, Yordi, Unsal, Kelly.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferrer, Terry, Desailly, Melchiot, Stanic, Lampard, Petit, Zola, Gudjohnsen (Zenden 76), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: Jokanovic, Dalla Bona, Cole, de Goey.

Att: 25,441
Ref: S Dunn (Bristol).

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