Blues Stretch Lead At Top (Sky Sports)
Blackburn Rovers 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea stretched their lead at the top of the table to 11 points with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Blackburn.
Arjen Robben's early goal was enough to give Chelsea their eighth successive Premiership win, but they were indebted to Petr Cech, who overtook Peter Schmeichel's Premiership record of 694 minutes without conceding a goal, to preserve the victory by saving Paul Dickov's first half penalty.
Chelsea broke the deadlock after just five minutes through Robben after a lightening counter attack.
Frank Lampard began the move with a fine ball out to Robben wide on the left and the Dutchman tricked his way past Andy Todd before rifling a shot through Brad Friedel although the keeper will be unhappy that he did not keep out the shot after getting hands on it.
The goal proved to be Robben's last significant contribution as he was forced off soon after to be replaced by Joe Cole following a late tackle from Aaron Mokoena.
Damien Duff on his return to his former club forced Friedel into a good save on 15 minutes when he picked the ball up on the edge of the area and fired in a swerving volley towards goal.
Todd wasted a great chance to draw Blackburn level on 24 minutes when he met Robbie Savage's corner unmarked inside the box only to head his effort wide of goal.
Savage had a good opportunity to score on the half hour when he latched onto Dickov's flick on from Morten Gamst Pedersen's long throw inside the box, but he blazed his left-footed shot well over the crossbar.
Seconds later Savage was inches away from netting his first goal for his new club when he let fly from 30 yards and was unlucky to see his shot flash just wide of the post with Cech well beaten.
Blackburn were handed the chance to equalise on 33 minutes when Uriah Rennie awarded them a dubious penalty after Savage had gone down in the box under minimal contact from Paulo Ferreira.
Dickov took responsibility for the kick, but he saw his shot brilliantly saved by Cech to keep Chelsea in front and tempers threatened to boil over when Dickov lunged in on the Czech Republic international in an attempt to score from the rebound.
Blackburn were not afraid to get in among Chelsea and some of their tackling was upsetting the visitors' mood and rhythm.
Todd had another half chance to score three minutes into the second half from another Savage corner, but he glanced his header well wide of the target.
Cole had a sight of goal for Chelsea just before the hour mark when William Gallas picked him out on the edge of the box, but he sliced his shot horribly wide of goal. Blackburn huffed and puffed in a bid to get back into the game, but they failed to seriously threaten Chelsea's goal.
Eidur Gudjohnsen almost grabbed a second goal for Chelsea 11 minutes from time when he latched onto Cech's long clearance down field, but Friedel was quickly off his line to block the striker's attempted lob.
The American goalkeeper had a lucky escape a minute later when he misjudged a long clearance and was relieved to see Ryan Nelsen back to clear up the danger.
The hard-working Dickov fashioned a chance for himself seconds later when he superbly controlled a long kick from Friedel and hit a shot which Cech comfortably collected.
Lucas Neill wasted a good opening three minutes from time when he found space wide on the right, but the defender never looked comfortable and he hit his volley well wide.
The game almost turned ugly in the dying seconds when Claude Makelele hit out at Pedersen, but Rennie decided to take no action against the Frenchman as Chelsea held on for another win to move them a step closer to the championship.
Friedel, Matteo, Mokoena, Neill, Nelsen, Todd, Emerton, Pedersen, Savage,
Thompson (Reid 81), Dickov
Subs Not Used Enckelman, Amoruso, Tugay, Johnson
Booked Matteo, Dickov
Cech, Bridge, Gallas,
Ferreira, Terry, Duff, Lampard, Makelele, Tiago, Gudjohnsen (Kezman 82), Robben
(Cole 11, Jarosik 79)
Subs Not Used Cudicini, Johnson
Booked Terry, Kezman
Goals Robben 5
Referee U. Rennie