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Blues halt Rovers return

Written By: Robert Halter

Chelsea ended their Premier League campaign for 2011/12 with their lowest finish in a decade with the Blues outside the top four qualification spots for next season’s UEFA Champions League with their only route back into the tournament being a victory in the final over Bayern Munich on May 19, otherwise Chelsea will have to drop out of the competition and play Europa League football. The consequences were worse for the Blues opponents Blackburn Rovers, who after eleven years in the top tier, were relegated into the Championship following a 1-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic, prior to the final match at Stamford Bridge. In the opening two minutes, Branislav Ivanovic spread the ball out wide to Florent Malouda but Rovers stand in keeper Jake Kean kept out the advancing Daniel Sturridge. But Blackburn responded on six minutes when Jason Lowe’s long range strike took a deflection before the Blues second choice goalie Ross Turnbull produced a summersault save to turn the ball over the crossbar. Another brave stop by Kean at point blank range prevented Romelu Lukaku scoring from a Daniel Sturridge cross in the nineteenth minute. It was then the turn of Lukaku to set up Sturridge with a high ball over, two minutes later, but the Blues striker put his header into the side netting. On the half hour mark, Blues captain John Terry opened the account with a soaring header into the top right corner from Lukaku’s in swinging cross. Four minutes later, Chelsea increased their lead when Michael Essien cut in from the right hand side and as he tripped in the process, Raul Meireles picked up the loose ball and drilled his shot into the bottom left corner. Two minutes into the second half, a curling strike by Sturridge, drifted fractions over the upright as the Blues kept up their command on the match. Although Rovers pulled a goal back in the fifty ninth minute, when from Morton Gamst Pedersen’s corner, club captain Scott Dann, turned his header towards Ayegbeni Yakubu, who nodded the ball into the left side of the net. But within a minute, Ramires was close to restoring the Blues advantage, as he lobbed the ball over Kean onto the top of the crossbar. On sixty eight minutes, Martin Olsson was close to putting the ball into his own net until Kean produced a full length save, after Sturridge’s initial shot had caused unrest in the Rovers defence. A two handed block by Kean from a Ryan Bertrand effort, prevented the Blues adding to the score, six minutes from normal time. In stoppage time, Sturridge was unable to convert from under the right post, Didier Drogba’s deep cross but by then Chelsea had done enough for a routine victory to end the season on the same day that Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions.