Chelsea won for the first time under interim boss Frank Lampard by beating Bournemouth 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium.
Late goals from Benoit Badiashile and Joao Felix earned Chelsea and Frank Lampard a hard-fought win over Bournemouth.
The game was evenly poised heading into the final 10 minutes until substitutes Hakim Ziyech, Raheem Sterling, and Felix made the difference to give Lampard his first win in seven games since returning to Chelsea in place of Graham Potter.
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The result means The Blues are now mathematically safe from relegation in 11th, while Bournemouth remain 14th and at risk.
Both sides had chances in a brilliant game, with Bournemouth starting the brighter before going behind to the simplest of goals. N’Golo Kante picked out Conor Gallagher with a pinpoint delivery from the right and the Englishman steered a superb glancing header in at the far post in the ninth minute.
The hosts responded well to going behind and showed why they are one of the league’s in-form teams. Gary O’Neil’s side are well drilled at the back and capable of attacking with all the style of a team fighting for top honours, rather than feeding on scraps at the bottom.
Matias Vina’s leveller wouldn’t have been out of place in any fixture. The Uruguayan put the finishing touches on a stunning one-touch team move, curling an effort from the edge of the area past Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the far corner.
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The second half was just as lively as the first, but it was The Blues who found themselves in the early ascendancy. Noni Madueke, in particular, proved a constant thorn in Bournemouth’s side and enjoyed the better of a game-long duel with Vina.
The 21-year-old is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years when he sorts out his end product.
But for all Chelsea’s bark, there was little bite, and they were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Thiago Silva brought down Dominic Solanke in the 67th minute. O’Neil said in the build-up that sides like Bournemouth don’t get awarded penalties, and, on the evidence, he might have a point as VAR waved away the hosts’ strong claims.
And that proved pivotal as Bournemouth were punished late on against the run of play when Badiashile finished off a brilliant Ziyech cross in the 82nd minute, before Felix’s first-time strike put the result beyond doubt.
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The result ended Lampard’s 10-match losing run in his 100th game in Premier League management and sees Chelsea finish the day 11th in the table, three points and three places above Bournemouth, who drop to 14th.
Lampard pleased for the players
Lampard after the game said: “I’m pleased for the players, the fans and the club. Everyone is looking at Chelsea because we’ve been a huge success over the last 20 years so people probably delight in a tough moment.
“Today is one step in a good direction so we can be happy with that tonight.”
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“It was hard fought because they’re a good team and they can really be dangerous at any time in the game because of the speed, energy, the players they have at the front of the pitch. That’s why they’ve had a great season and they deserve huge credit.
“But we controlled elements of the game without possession. In the first half, we got down the sides a lot and lots of entries into the box. In a different moment as this team develops and we add to it, those can be the games you put to bed earlier.
“But when we don’t and you’re in this moment and you worry at 1-1. Maybe we deserved that stroke of luck, it was two good goals at the end – a set-piece goal and then Joao’s goal to give us comfort.
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“If confidence is higher and we’re clinical at the top end of the pitch with our feeling, not just out movements, I think we maybe score more goals in the first half.
“But again, it’s one step. I don’t want to sound like we’ve cracked it and this is it because it’s a tough time. But at the same time, we want more of that and there’s a lot of work to do and we can move forward because there is talent in the squad.”
O’Neil’s Bournemouth travel to Crystal Palace next, while Chelsea welcome Nottingham Forest.