Ancelotti's Blues Signal Intent   (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 3 Birmingham City 0

Florent MaloudaChelsea delivered a devastating performance to bring Birmingham City's 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions to a grinding halt and returned to the top of the table with a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues had surrendered their place at the Premier League's summit to Arsenal and Manchester United since they demolished Sunderland in their last outing, but a Florent Malouda header and two goals from Frank Lampard recovered that spot.

Rarely has a side been as dominant as Carlo Ancelotti's in the first half and after just five minutes the West London outfit, a team on an apparent mission, were ahead when Malouda nodded a cross from the excellent Joe Cole past Joe Hart.

Chelsea then pummelled their visitors, who could not find strikers Cameron Jerome and Christian Benitez, before a trademark, long-range effort from Lampard in the 32nd minute doubled their advantage.

Birmingham were unable to contain the width and midfield creativity of Ancelotti's men and continued to struggle in the second half before Lampard wrapped things up on the stroke of full-time.

Chelsea's victory, coupled with Arsenal's stalemate at Aston Villa, ensured the Blues returned to the top of the table.

The opening goal was almost inevitable despite the fact that only a few minutes were on the clock in a blistering start to matters.

England midfielder Joe Cole was the architect as he burst into the Birmingham penalty area from the right flank before crossing for the unmarked Malouda to head past Hart from six yards.

City had been the only team in the league to prevent Chelsea from scoring when the two teams met at St Andrews on Boxing Day but Ancelotti's side are a different animal at home.

Moved up a gear

Only the width of the upright prevented the home side from increasing their lead in the 20th minute as Malouda's corner was met by the head of Ricardo Carvalho.

Chelsea continued to press and Lampard sent an angled drive into the arms of Hart in the 21st minute, while Joe Cole was inches wide with a 20-yard shot moments later.

Joe Cole was having a fine game for the home side and another 18-yard effort was well held by the diving Hart in the 26th minute.

But Chelsea did make it 2-0 in the 31st minute when Lampard collected a pass from Michael Ballack and sent a low angled drive beyond Hart and into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Chelsea had now moved up a gear and were in their familiar smooth groove.

In the 34th minute, Nicolas Anelka had a shot deflected for a corner as the home side looked for a third.

Chelsea's passing was fluent and inventive and Birmingham had no answer.

They possessed little attacking threat, with Chelsea captain John Terry proving to be an imposing figure in his 300th career league game.

City had not tested Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and lacked the quality and guile to trouble the home defence.

Lack of ambition

There was also a distinct lack of ambition in City's play, which was surprising given their 15-game unbeaten run.

Chelsea began the second half with the same attacking desire and a 25-yard drive from Anelka ruffled the side-netting with Hart scrambling to protect his near post.

In the 53rd minute, Hart rescued Birmingham when a cross from Ashley Cole found the unmarked Ballack at the far post.

The Germany captain sent his downward header towards the corner of the net but Hart somehow managed to grab the ball in time.

City replaced Jerome with Keith Fahey in the 56th minute as the visitors looked to add more impetus to their attack.

Chelsea were inches away from a third in the 59th minute when a corner by Malouda was directed just over the crossbar by Ballack.

Joe Cole deserved a goal as a reward for his performance but he squandered a real chance in the 64th minute when Lampard found him with a fine cross-field pass.

The midfielder, hoping to play his way into England's squad for the World Cup finals this summer, hit a weak shot straight at Hart from eight yards.

Hart was busy again two minutes later when he held a long-range drive from Malouda.

Birmingham's James McFadden broke clear of the Chelsea defence in the 72nd minute but his angled shot flashed the wrong side of the far post.

Moments later substitute Fahey brought a fine save from Cech as City finally put some pressure on the home defence.

But Chelsea made it 3-0 in the 90th minute when Lampard collected a pass from Malouda and fired past the advancing Hart.


Team Statistics

Birmingham City





1st Half Goals



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Shots off Target



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Yellow Cards



Red Cards



Passing Success






Tackles Success






Territorial Advantage



Chelsea  Cech, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry, A. Cole, Malouda, Ballack, Lampard, Deco, J. Cole (Zhirkov 81), Anelka (Sturridge 88)
Subs Not Used  Turnbull, Ferreira, Matic, Alex, Borini
Goals  Malouda 5, Lampard 32, 90

Birmingham City  Hart, Carr, R. Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, McFadden (Madera 72), Jerome (Fahey 56), Benitez
Subs Not Used Taylor, McSheffrey, Queudrue, D. Johnson, Vignal

Attendance 41,293

Referee  S. Bennett

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