Lampard Leads Blues Past Blades  (Sky Sports)

Sheffield United 0 Chelsea 2

Carvalho in action against Sheffield UnitedChelsea overcame a sluggish start to beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane and return to the top of the table.

Sheffield United missed a penalty in the first half as they came out strongly, before Frank Lampard fired Chelsea in front with a bizarre free kick.

Michael Ballack scored a second as Chelsea enjoyed a more comfortable second half.

Jose Mourinho was true to his word in terms of team selection, dropping Andrei Shevchenko the week after he ended his goal drought against Portsmouth, and there was not even a place on the bench for the Ukrainian.

Joe Cole made his first Premiership start of the season as Mourinho opted to use more width than in previous games, but Chelsea struggled to get to grips with the change in formation as they struggled through the first half.

Sheffield United showed much more urgency and battled hard to impose themselves on the Premiership champions.

Michael Tonge had to be withdrawn after just seven minutes due to an ankle injury, but his replacement Nick Montgomery took up the gauntlet and quickly forced John Terry into a hasty clearance with a dangerous low cross.

Didier Drogba was required to defend on more than one occasion, but his aggression got the better of him when he conceded a penalty for a foul on Claude Davis after 17 minutes.

However, Danny Webber failed to fire The Blades into a deserved lead as his weak penalty was comfortably saved by Hilario down to his left.

The Blades were made to rue the missed opportunity as Chelsea gradually started to gain a foothold in the game, with the midfield trio of Lampard, Ballack and Michael Essien leading the resistance.

It was Lampard who fittingly broke the deadlock for Chelsea with a free kick after 43 minutes, although Paddy Kenny will feel he should have done better as he misjudged the flight of the ball and dived too early.

Chelsea showed their ruthless side just four minutes into the second half as Michael Ballack doubled their advantage and knocked the stuffing out of Sheffield United.

Lampard sprinted down the left wing to receive Arjen Robben's cross and floated an inviting ball high to the back post, where Ballack rose to head powerfully into the roof of the net.

Kenny kept Arjen Robben at bay with a fine save moments later, rushing from his line after the Dutchman had been picked out by a clever pass from Salomon Kalou.

In the final half hour Chelsea took their foot off the gas and did not seem interested in adding a third, but they retained possession easily and often made the United players chase shadows.

The Blades continued to work hard and pressed forward whenever they could, but they did not threaten Hilario's goal.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was brought on for Cole and impressed down the right, while Wayne Bridge was also quietly effective on the opposite flank.

Ballack had a late opportunity to grab his second header of the afternoon, but in the end Chelsea were content to see out time and put the pressure back on the chasing pack.


Sheffield United Kenny, Armstrong, Bromby (Kozluz 65), Davis, Leigertwood, Gillespie (Kabba 67), Jaqielka, Quinn, Tonge (Montgomery 7), Hulse, Webber
Subs Not Used Morgan, Nade
Booked  Leigertwood, Montgomery

Chelsea  Hilario, Bridge, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Ballack, J. Cole (Wright-Phillips 67), Essien, Lampard, Drogba (Kalou 46), Robben (Makelele 83)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Boulahrouz
Goals  Lampard 43, Ballack 49

Attendance  32,321

Referee  M. Atkinson

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