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Premiership - Portsmouth Away 4th March 2009 1-0


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Drogba keeps up scoring touch to keep Blues on United’s heels

Portsmouth 0-1 Chelsea

By Alan McGuinness

The Daily Mirror indulged in some Photoshop work on its back page this morning, planting Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink’s face onto that of Kevin Keegan’s, stating he would ‘love it’ if Chelsea overturned Manchester United’s lead at the top of the Premier League and won the title.

However fleeting that chase may appear to be, Chelsea keep on believing that it is possible. Didier Drogba scored his second goal in a week with less than 15 minutes remaining to keep the Blues in second place and maintain Hiddink’s 100% record since he took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari last month.

Chelsea suffered a blow before kick off with the news that Nicolas Anelka was to miss out with a toe injury. The enigmatic Florent Malouda took his place. Jose Bosingwa returned to the side after his suspension, with Michael Mancienne dropping to the bench.

The home side exerted all of the early pressure, and wasted little time in forcing their opponents onto the back foot.

Hermann Hreidarsson forced a corner in the first minute, but Hayden Mullins fired well over the bar.

Chelsea’s best chance of the first half came with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock. Ashley Cole crossed but Didier Drogba just failed to connect with the left back’s cross.

David James spilled a Malouda cross minutes later, but luckily for Pompey Sean Davies was able to clear the ball to safety.

Davis then tested Cech with a brilliant 25-yard effort that the Czech stopper managed to keep out.

James again spilled a Chelsea shot as the game moved towards half time - on this occasion from Frank Lampard. But a Portsmouth player was again on hand to spare the England international’s blushes.

A flurry of Chelsea chances arrived before half time. Ballack headed over from a corner and Alex saw his 30-yard free kick tipped wide by James.

As was the case with the opening stages of the first half, Portsmouth dominated possession in the second period. Cech was called into action approaching the hour mark, forcing a David Nugent shot wide.

Juliano Beletti - brought on to replace John Obi Mikel - tried his luck from distance but his effort was easily dealt with by James.

Ricardo Quaresma, another substitute sent on by Hiddink in attempt to find a goal, then crossed for Drogba, but the Ivorian headed over the bar.

A momentary lapse in concentration then almost cost Chelsea. Frank Lampard struck a free kick straight into the Portsmouth wall, but Chelsea argued that the wall was less than 10 yards behind the ball. While all this was going on Portsmouth broke away at the other end. Peter Crouch crossed in for Niko Kranjcar who disappointingly fired wide.

Then Drogba struck the winner. Quaresma’s cross was left by Michael Ballack, and Drogba found the net from inside the box. After going over four months without a goal, Drogba has scored two vital goals within a week. Hiddink will be hoping that his brooding talisman has rediscovered his goal scoring touch at a crucial stage in the season.

The goal proved decisive, and Chelsea held out for three more points in their pursuit of Manchester United, who play Newcastle at St James Park this evening. All eyes will be on Tyneside to see if Sir Alex Ferguson’s men look human after all.

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