Blues turn up the heat on Hoops
Written By: Robert Halter
After the euphoria of the Blues 2-2 draw in the Nou Camp to beat Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate and advance to the UEFA Champions League final on May 19 in Munich against home team Bayern Munich, it was back to the bread and butter of the Premier League end of April as Chelsea went in pursuit of a top four finish against West London rivals Queens Park Rangers, who were battling to avoid relegation. Stamford Bridge welcomed back QPR’s manager Mark Hughes, a former Blues striker while Hoops midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips returned to his former club as one of the substitutes. The pre match handshake was scrapped following the race allegation that occurred between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand during the R’s 1-0 win against the Blues at Loftus Road last October. It took just forty six seconds for Daniel Sturridge to get off the mark when from long range, he bent the ball around Paddy Kenny, into the left hand side of the net as Chelsea got off to a dream start. The Blues grew in confidence on twelve minutes, when Frank Lampard produced a sublime chip from outside the box which was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Kenny but the R’s paid the price from Juan Mata’s resulting corner as Terry’s downward header crashed into the centre of the net. On eighteen minutes, the Blues added a third after a lay off by Mata to Salomon Kalou, whose threaded pass through to Fernando Torres, was met with a similar finish to his Champions League clincher at Barcelona, as Torres rounded Kenny, to slide the ball home across the greasy surface which had been hampered by the continual downpour of rain. A Mata ball caused havoc in the Hoops defence on twenty four minutes, when Nedum Onuoha clashed with his own keeper Kenny and Torres latched onto the loose ball to fire a shot into the right corner to give the Blues a four goal cushion. Towards the end of the half, Frank Lampard set Torres up with a chance to complete his hat trick but he was unable to hit the target. Five minutes into the second half, Mata scuffed his shot straight into Kenny, after Ashley Cole had given him the chance to add a fifth. QPR tested Petr Cech for the first time on fifty four minutes, when Jamie Mackie’s long range strike was turned away by Cech at his near post. It was Kenny’s turn to produce a block, four minutes later, after Torres’s well struck shot was kept out, as he edged closer to taking home the match ball, as Lampard was again provider. Finally, Torres’s hat trick was complete on sixty four minutes when Torres latched onto a through ball from Mata, before unleashing a low strike past Kenny’s despairing dive, into the bottom right corner. Kenny stopped Chelsea adding a sixth on seventy six minutes, after he parried Ramires’s effort, after Lampard put him in the clear. But three minutes later, the Hoops were powerless to stop Florent Malouda making it six nil when Ramires’s low cross was frantically cleared by Clint Hill into the path of Malouda, who capitalised on the mistake by the R’s defender, by putting a close range shot past Kenny. But Rangers got a consolation goal in the eighty third minute, when Onuoha’s cross was turned past Cech by Djibril Cisse, into the left side of the goal. Although a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of local neighbours Chelsea compounded QPR’s relegation fears while the Blues kept up their chase for a fourth Champions league qualification spot in the Premiership table.