Premier League: Chelsea 4 Wigan Athletic 1
By Football News
Chelsea regained third place in the English Premier League after beating Wigan Athletic 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Fernando Torres, who replaced Demba Ba in the starting XI, showed good awareness to play Ramires in on goal for Chelsea's opener, before Eden Hazard demonstrated a cool head to drill the Blues into a two-goal lead following enterprising build-up by Cesar Azpilicueta.
A poorly timed offside trap – Gary Cahill the culprit – allowed Shaun Maloney to scamper through and finish beyond Petr Cech to pull one back for Wigan.
But Rafael Benitez's team rallied and finished the job courtesy of Lampard's goal and a late Marko Marin header.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez would have been pleased with the start his side made in front of a cagey home crowd as Maloney tested Cech with a curling left-footed effort from the right side of the box.
In the 15th minute Torres nodded a Lampard free-kick inches wide of the far post as Ali Al-Habsi slipped on his goal-line.
Chelsea were purring. Torres again caused the Wigan defence problems and did well to twist inside Gary Caldwell on the edge of the box but Al-Habsi caught his shot easily.
Then came the opener. David Luiz's pass from midfield in the 23rd minute was turned by Torres into the path of the overlapping Ramires. The Brazilian steadied himself as he entered Al-Habsi's box and coolly stroked the ball high into the net to give the hosts the lead.
Wigan emerged for the second period sticking to their principles of controlled possession and for a moment it looked as if they might trouble a relaxed Chelsea.
But they found chances difficult to come by and on the 56th minute a routine ball over the top found Jean Beausejour out of position.
Right-back Azpilicueta advanced into the Wigan box and squared neatly for Hazard, who fired through a crowd and under Al-Habsi.
But Wigan were not done. Two minutes later, they had a goal as James McArthur's cute ball over the top of the defence exposed a frail offside trap. Cech looked to pounce on the loose ball but Maloney was faster and bent his shot into the unguarded net from a wide angle.
Arouna Kone was introduced as Martinez pushed for an equaliser and for a time it seemed like one was imminent.
Kone tested Cech and McArthur should have done better with a deflection that fell to him in the box. In among it all the away team appealed in unison for a penalty as Ronnie Stam's shot appeared to strike Ashley Cole's arm - unintentionally, referee Mike Dean decided.
And so it was left for Lampard to put the outcome beyond doubt.
A scampering Hazard run down the left drew the defence toward the Belgian and his cutback was intelligently dummied by substitute Juan Mata, leaving Lampard the space to firmly smash a trademark right-foot shot beyond Al-Habsi.
In the dying moments, the late substitute Marin pounced to plant a diving header into an empty net after Al-Habsi could only parry a booming Azpilicueta drive.
Torres almost repeated the feat moments later but Al-Habsi denied Chelsea with a double save from Ramires and then the striker.