Blues Ease To Boro Success  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 3 Middlesbrough 0

Didier Drogba celebrates a goalChampions Chelsea kept up the pressure on Premiership leaders Manchester United with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge.

The three points were far from straightforward for The Blues, but with captain John Terry back in the starting line-up - the result was never in doubt once they had the lead.

A free-kick from Didier Dogma in first half injury time broke the deadlock, before Abel Xavier put through his own net just after the hour following good work from Arjen Robben.

With minutes left Drogba added his second as he scored from another set-piece to put a very flattering sheen on the score-line.

Boro had their chances and should have gone ahead in the first half, but Chelsea justified their win with a very good second half showing.

Chelsea were the better side in the early stages and Drogba missed a couple of decent chances as he fired wide with his right and left foot when well positioned in the box.

The home side continued to press, but they were creating little and indeed it was Boro who should have gone ahead.

An excellent move down the left saw Andrew Taylor pick up the ball from George Boateng and he curled a great ball into the box for Mark Viduka, but from just five yards the Australian contrived to head wide.

Boro continued to create and moments later Julio Arca's defence-splitting pass sent Yakubu Aiyegbeni clear - the Nigerian was forced wide but Petr Cech was still needed to parry the ball away from an on-rushing Viduka.

Salomon Kalou and Andrei Shevchenko both looked bright throughout and they had decent chances to test Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer - but neither could find the target from the edge of the area.

Then on the stroke of half-time Chelsea claimed the lead, although Boro will be left wondering how they conceded. Xavier and Andrew Davies failed to clear the ball and it broke to the edge of the box, where Boateng dived into a needless challenge to fell Lassana Diarra.

Drogba stepped up and side footed the ball into the corner with consummate ease, but questions will be asked of Schwarzer who seemingly had the shot covered.

Chelsea opened the second half brightly and Arca was needed to clear off the line as Shevchenko met a Frank Lampard corner.

Boro, though, were anything but out of the game and they almost claimed an unlikely leveller as Taylor's cross sailed towards goal and Cech was beaten but fortunately for him the ball rebound off the crossbar and away.

The home side were again dominating possession but Boro looked dangerous on the counter attack and a swift break from James Morrison and Stewart Downing combined to free Yakubu - but as he cut inside Michael Essien he blazed off target when he should have tested Cech.

Just as Boro looked as if they could get something, Chelsea put the game beyond the Teessiders.

Robben had only been on the field a matter of seconds before he undertook his first run, he cut inside the box and the ball fell for him which enabled him to get a shot away - but his effort was diverted past a helpless Schwarzer by an unfortunate Xavier.

Xavier's day could and should have got much worse as he blocked a Lampard drive, he then attempted to clear but only succeeded in finding Drogba - but his shot from inside the six-yard box was blocked by Schwarzer.

Schwarzer, though, could do nothing with just a few minutes left to prevent Chelsea from adding a third. It was another free-kick from Drogba who found the top corner, albeit thanks to a big deflection off Davies, to grab his 25th goal of the campaign and wrap up victory for Jose Mourinho's men.


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Chelsea Cech, Bridge, Ferreira, Terry, Diarra (Robben 65), Essien, Lampard, Makelele, Drogba, Kalou (Wright-Phillips 85), Shevchenko (Geremi 88)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Boulahrouz
Goals  Drogba 45, Xavier (og) 66, Drogba 88

Middlesbrough Schwarzer, Arca (Rochemback 84), Davies, Pogatetz, Taylor, Xavier, Boateng, Downing, Morrison (Euell 73), Viduka (Christie 84), Yakubu
Subs Not Used Jones, Hines
Booked Downing

Attendance 41,699

Referee  C. Foy

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