Blues Cruise To Blunt Blades  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 3 Sheffield United 0

Andrei ShevchenkoChelsea picked up the gauntlet that had been thrown down by Manchester United earlier in the day as they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Sheffield United.

The champions have rarely had it easy this term, but they scored early through Andrei Shevchenko and were able to control the contest for the most part.

Salomon Kalou and Michael Ballack also found their way onto the scoresheet as Jose Mourinho's men cut the deficit at the top to six points, while The Blades, who are not yet safe, lost striker Rob Hulse to a suspected broke ankle.

The Blades' plan to stifle Chelsea was torn up after four minutes as Shevchenko slammed the home side in front. Ricardo Carvalho glided forward with grace and poise and picked out Shevchenko with a precise 20-yard pass.

The Ukrainian had pulled into acres of space, but he hardly needed it as he killed the ball in an instant and drilled a powerful drive with his left foot across Paddy Kenny and into the corner.

The early goal was the perfect answer to Manchester United's romp over Bolton and they approached the game with a swagger.

Shaun Wright-Phillips showed all that is good and bad about his game on 15 minutes as he left two Blades players in knots when cutting into the area, but then shot well wide with the outside of his right foot when he had team-mates well placed in the box.

Two minutes later Wright-Phillips atoned, though, as he delivered a great cross into the box which was flicked on by Shevchenko and Kalou was on hand to bundle home from a yard out.

The visitors showed nothing in the opening 20 minutes, but sprang to life after slipping two goals behind as Colin Kazim-Richards fired in a wicked drive which was superbly saved by Petr Cech.

Hulse then went close with an overhead kick, but his match came to a close two minutes later as he suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury when going in for a loose ball at the feet of Cech.

The Blades could have been forgiven for losing their focus following the injury to Hulse, but they responded well and had the ball in the net on 33 minutes but Claude Davis' effort was chalked off due to Kazim-Richards being in an offside position.

Chelsea ended the half in the ascendancy as Kalou, Shevchenko and Frank Lampard all went close in goalmouth scrambles.

The Blades plugged away after the break, but Chelsea stepped up the pace at will and after Derek Geary had produced a superb tackle to halt Kalou in full flight, substitute Ballack added a third.

Wright-Phillips whipped in a delightful free-kick from the left and the German midfielder ghosted in unopposed to head home from six yards.

Shevchenko was withdrawn to a standing ovation just past the hour, having produced an outstanding display, but there was no respite for The Blades as he was replaced by Didier Drogba.

Chelsea's wingers carried a threat all afternoon and Wright-Phillips and Arjen Robben both shot just wide following jinking runs.

Drogba showed flashes of quality as Chelsea threatened a fourth, but they did not overexert themselves with Monday's FA Cup replay with Tottenham clearly in mind.


Chelsea Cech, Boulahrouz, Carvalho, A. Cole (Ferreira 65), Terry, Lampard (Ballack 46), Makelele, Wright-Phillips, Kalou, Robben, Shevchenko (Drogba 65)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Diarra
Shevchenko 4, Kalou 17, Ballack 58

Sheffield United Kenny, Armstrong, Davis, Geary, Morgan, Gillespie, Jagielka, Montgomery, Quinn (Tonge 67), Hulse (Nade 25), Kazim-Richards
Subs Not Used
Bromby, Shelton, Stead

Attendance 41,897

Referee  C. Foy

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