Chelsea 0  Blackburn Rovers 0  (Sky Sports)

Blue Is The Colour - For The Fans

Eidur Gudjohnsen
Gudjohnsen: best chance


Chelsea  0-0 Blackburn
FA Barclaycard Premiership


Charlie McFaulds reporting

There were times in this match when you had to wonder if the proposed television strike would actually have been a bad thing had it gone ahead.

Chelsea and Blackburn tried in vain to put on a show but neither team had the imagination to make the breakthrough here at Stamford Bridge - it was largely a stale affair.

Rovers have already shown their capabilities to frustrate the top teams in the Premiership this season, and once again their organisation was superb.

In Keith Gillespie Blackburn had a player who looked rejuvenated as he turned, twisted and ran at Graeme Le Saux and his fellow defenders in the opening 30 minutes.

The first real goal threat came from the other flank on 14 minutes, when Damien Duff slipped down the touchline and delivered a superb chip to the middle, but Matt Jansen failed to provide the finish the creativity deserved.

Two minutes later Gillespie cut in from the other touchline, taking a handful of Chelsea defenders out of the game, and rolled the ball into the path off Alan Mahon, whose touch evaded Carlo Cudicini. The keeper's momentum carried him into the Blackburn man, but referee Graham Poll correctly turned down claims for a penalty.

The game then hit a lull with a scrap for midfield supremacy taking place, before Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink missed a chance to put Chelsea ahead after 37 minutes.

The ball broke to the Dutch striker in yards of space inside the box and sat up nicely, but his powerful half-volley narrowly missed the corner flag and went for a throw-in. He really could not have managed such an outcome had he been trying.

Apart from a John Terry trundler 25-yards out, and another Hasselbaink effort from similar distance that was once again closer to the corner flag than the goal frame, the hosts offered little to cheer their fans in the opening half.

Chelsea twice threatened the Rovers goal in the opening five minutes of the second half though, as it became apparent that they had stepped up their game. Terry got a header on target that was easily saved, and then substitute Sam Dalla Bona had a shot from 20-yards that was nonchalantly stopped with one hand by Brad Friedel.

The big US stopper then raced off his line to deny Eidur Gudjohnsen moments later, in what would be the best chance of the game.

Former Chelsea favourite Mark Hughes entered the fray on the hour, and was immediately involved in the action, battling for position with Le Saux for a loose ball deep in the Chelsea half.

The much travelled Sven Goran Eriksson saw England hopeful David Dunn almost break the deadlock with a sizzling shot from a free-kick, which whizzed narrowly past the post.

Then Hasselbaink went down twice in the box in the space of three minutes, in an effort to con referee Poll into awarding spot-kicks. His second tumble under a challenge from Henning Berg was laughable, and should have been punished with a yellow card.

Not sure if a televison audience would actually miss those sorts of theatrics. The majority of those who paid substantial money to be here were certainly more than willing to voice their disapproval at the final whistle.

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Keith Gillespie (Blackburn Rovers)
The Blackburn winger earns the award by default as his contribution ended in the first half, but there were some signs of the form he produced regularly as a youngster.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Terry, Le Saux, Stanic, Petit, Lampard, Zenden (Dalla Bona 46), Hasselbaink, Zola (Gudjohnsen 46).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Babayaro, Forssell.

Blackburn: Friedel, Curtis, Short, Berg (Johansson 82), Bjornebye, Gillespie, Dunn, Tugay, Mahon (Hughes 60), Duff, Jansen.
Subs Not Used: Filan, Hignett, Taylor.
Booked: Duff, Tugay.

Att: 37,978
Ref: Graham Poll (Tring).

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