Johnson Keeps Blues On Course (Sky Sports)
Blackburn Rovers 2 Chelsea 3
Glen Johnson's dramatic late goal earned Chelsea a hard-fought 3-2 win over Blackburn in an entertaining clash at Ewood Park to get Claudio Ranieri's side's championship charge back on course.
Paul Gallagher's late goal had seemed to have secured a point for Blackburn before Johnson popped up two minutes from time to grab a precious winner after two goals from Frank Lampard had cancelled out Garry Flitcroft's early opener.
Blackburn started off like a house on fire and they almost broke the deadlock after just two minutes when Irish youngster Jonathan Douglas got on the end of Brett Emerton's cross at the far post, but Carlo Cudicini produced a fine save to palm out his volley.
Chelsea's let off was short-lived as less than a minute later Blackburn took the lead with Markus Babbel heading debutant Michael Gray's cross back across the goal for Flitcroft to volley home from six yards.
The visitors had their first noteworthy attack of the game four minutes later when Adrian Mutu broke down the left and picked out Claude Makelele on the edge of the box, but the Frenchman blazed his shot over the crossbar.
Cudicini had a lucky escape on 10 minutes when he hit his clearance straight at Dwight Yorke and when the ball came back into the box from Emerton, Cole poked his shot just wide of the target.
Chelsea debutant Scott Parker tried to find a
way back into the game for his new employers on 21 minutes, but his shot from
the edge of the box was straight at Brad Friedel.
The miss did not matter a minute later when Emmanuel Petit latched onto a mistake by Tugay to play in Lampard and the midfielder kept his cool to slot the ball home.
Mutu came close to adding to Chelsea's lead with two chances in the space of a minute, firstly firing an acrobatic bicycle kick just wide and then just narrowly chipping the ball over the crossbar after spotting Brad Friedel off his line.
Blackburn thought they had drawn level on 65 minutes when substitute Gallagher turned home Alan Mahon's cross, but the young Scot was adjudged offside when he netted.
Friedel denied Lampard his hat-trick ten minutes from time with a stupendous one-handed save to keep out his header from Jesper Gronkjaer's cross.
Blackburn pushed forward to get back in the game and got their reward three minutes from time when Babbel flicked a cross into the path of Gallagher and the young striker beat Cudicini from an acute angle.
Chelsea went up the other end a minute later and restored their lead with a fine individual goal from Johnson as he beat Flitcroft on the edge of the box before smashing an unstoppable shot past Friedel.
Friedel, Babbel, Gray,
Neill, Todd, Douglas (Mahon 56), Emerton, Flitcroft, Tugay, Cole, Yorke
Subs Not Used Enckelman, Johansson, Jansen
Booked Tugay, Neill
Goals Flitcroft (3), Gallagher (87)
Cudicini, Bridge, Gallas,
Johnson, Terry, Lampard, Makelele, Parker (Gronkjaer 68), Petit (Melchiot 81),
Hasselbaink, Mutu (Gudjohnsen 90)
Subs Not Used Sullivan, Nicolas
Goals Lampard (25) (35), Johnson (88)