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Paul Lagan, Chelsea correspondent at Stamford Bridge
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Premier League: Chelsea 2 Blackburn 1
Chelsea ended their worst league campaign in 10 years with a win against already relegated Blackburn Rovers, but the performance, in truth, was a damp squib.
With a Champions League final in seven days’ time, this was not a game for any Chelsea player with aspirations of facing Bayern Munich to get injured.
Thankfully, none did and the Blues head off to Germany in no worse shape than they started the match.
First half strikes from John Terry and Raul Merieles put the Blues into a convincing lead. But plucky Blackburn decided to make a game of it and Aiyegbeni Yakubu headed home a goal on the hour.
Chelsea almost scored after two minutes, when a fine, left wing cross by Florent Malouda was almost met by Romelu Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge, but both strikers were just too late to to the fine ball.
Two minutes later and Jason Lowe for the visitors, forced an excellent tip-over the bar save by Ross Turnbull, when his 30-yarder took a deflection off the shoulder of Raul Merieles.
Sturridge, on 13 minutes failed to control. 40-yard defence-splitting ball by Ivanovic. The young striker should have done better, especially as he beat the offside trap and was clear on goal.
Jake Kean, 21, in goal for injured Paul Robinson, was quick to snuffle out a challenge from Romelu Lukaku as the Belgium striker, making his league debut, raced through into the Blackburn penalty area.
Kean was then quick to react when Gael Givet almost scored an own-goal when he deflected Sturridge’s byline cross towards goal. The goalkeeper parried the ball away to safety.
But the blues broke through on the half hour. Wide on the right, Lukaku sent in an arched curling pass and up popped Terry, eight yards out to plonk his header high and wide of Kean, The Blues took an empathic hold on the game against their relegated opponents, four minutes later when Portugal midfielder Merieles drove home a toe-poke from the edge of Blackburn’s penalty area.
With the game seemingly safe, Chelsea’s interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, with one eye on next week’s Champions League final in Munich, replaced Malouda with Paulo Ferreira with three minutes of the half remaining.
Blackburn boss Steve Kean replaced Maurio Formica at half time and the wide man had the first effort of the second half, but his lacklustre shot from the edge of the penalty area dribbled harmlessly into Turnbull’s hands.
Di Matteo brought on Didier Drogba, for what could be his last appearance as a Chelsea player at Stamford Bridge on 54 minutes, taking off Lukaku.
The Chelsea faithful acknowledged this with chants of ‘Didier Drogba, we want you to stay.’
Rovers failed to read the script and promptly decided to score. From a deep corner from Pedersen on 60 minutes, Scott Dann headed back towards goal, and Ayegbeni Yakubu, unchallenged, four yards out nodded home.
Chelsea’s Brazil midfielder Ramires tried a delicate chip from just outside Rovers’ area, four minutes later, but the ball tapped off the crossbar.
David Hoilett zipped a fizzer of a shot over Turnbull bar as the visitors sensed that perhaps they could after all get something from the game.
Fernando Torres then replaced Sam Hutchinson with 20 minutes remaining.
The game petered out with a miss by Sturridge deep into added time the last piece of action for the watching 40, 742 crowd.
Teams: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Essien, Ramires, Malouda, Meireles, Lukaku, Sturridge, Terry, Hutchinson, Bertrand
Subs: Hilario, Piazon, Ferreria, Drogba, Torres, Romeu, Cole
Blackburn Rovers: Kean, Olsson, Givet, Formica, Gamst Pedersen, Danny, Olsson, Hoilett, Yakubu, Lowe, Henley,
Subs: Uasi, Modeste, Grella, Petrovic, Rochina, Goodwillie, Morris