Chelsea beat Bolton Wanderers 4-0 for a second time in a matter of days as they stayed on top of the Premier League table with a convincing victory here at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
Fresh from dumping Wanderers out of the League Cup by a 4-0 margin on Wednesday, Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti saw goals from Frank Lampard, Deco and Didier Drogba, with Zat Knight also scoring an own goal, keep the Blues out in front of the chasing pack.
Gary Megson’s side offered strong resistance in the opening period before Jlloyd Samuel was sent off for tripping Drogba in the area and Lampard made no mistake from the spot.
And after the interval, a clever breakaway allowed Portuguese play-maker Deco to double the lead.
They added a third late on when Knight headed Ricardo Carvalho’s cross into his own net to give the score-line an even more one-sided feel.
Even though it ended up as a convincing victory, Ancelotti’s side certainly did not have it all their own way.
Bolton tried to expose Chelsea’s perceived weakness at set pieces inside a minute with a Lee Chung-wong free-kick that was headed over by the unmarked Tamir Cohen.
When Chelsea’s calm build-up play finally did create some space, they failed to make the most of their first opportunity on goal.
Nicolas Anelka’s cross from the right was met by a header from Drogba that flew well wide of goal.
But they produced a fine move when Drogba fed Anelka and his strike was pushed wide of the near post by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
From the Deco corner that followed Drogba climbed highest and Jaaskelainen had to be at full stretch to turn over the bar.
As the pressure continued, Michael Essien also shot over before Gary Cahill’s slip almost handed Chelsea the lead.
But Bolton’s Kevin Davies should have opened the scoring just after the half hour when he seized on Johan Elmander’s flick on only to drive wide of Petr Cech’s goal.
But on the stroke of half time, Chelsea got their breakthrough when Deco played in to Michael Ballack and the German slid the ball through for Drogba.
The Chelsea striker went down under Samuel’s challenge and referee Peter Walton had no choice but to point to the spot and show the Bolton man a straight red.
Lampard then sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way with the spot-kick for his fifth of the season on the stroke of half time.
Megson sacrificed the attacking quality of Lee as well as Chris Basham to send on Ricardo Gardner and Paul Robinson at the break.
But it was Chelsea again that were first to threaten after the re-start as Drogba tore onto a raking Lampard pass to force a low save from Jaaskelainen.
And at the other end, Cohen summed up Bolton’s frustration by firing a free-kick into the stand.
But just after the hour Deco looked to have made the game safe when Anelka charged into Bolton territory and fed the Portuguese, who cut inside Robinson’s despairing dive and curled past Jaaskelainen.
The visitors were now in total control and able to open up Bolton at will.
Drogba threatened once again and former Bolton player Anelka also went close with a swift counter-attack and shot that was held low down by Jaaskelainen.
Carvalho whipped in a cross from the left and Knight could only head into his own net under heavy pressure from Branislav Ivanovic.
And Drogba completed what turned into a rout with a close-range finish from Lampard’s flick.