Chelsea kept alive their slim hopes of retaining their Premiership title with a comprehensive 4-0 win away to Bolton and are now seven points behind leaders Manchester United but have played a game more.
Anything less than three points would have seen Chelsea scrapping it out for a Champions League place as their defence of the title would but all have evaporated.
The Blues enjoy a good record against the Wanderers with 12 wins and no defeats in 15 encounters yet the host’s boasted an impressive home record with just one defeat all season.
Yet the Wanderers were suffering a crisis of confidence of their own with just one point out of a possible twelve and still searching for a league win in 2011.
Chelsea’s nerves were settled by an early goal from Didier Drogba whose swerving long range effort deceived keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Then just before the break the visitor’s finally doubled their advantage with a scrambled Florent Malouda effort.
Wanderers came close with a Matt Taylor header but Petr Cech saved.
Nicolas Anelka, against his old club, made the game safe early in the second half and Ramires rounded off the scoring with his first goal for the club.
So, while Carlo Ancelotti saw Chelsea’s title hopes receive a boost, Bolton boss Owen Coyle must be wondering what he has to do to arrest their alarming slide.
Referee: Chris Foy
Venue: Reebok Stadium
Chelsea scorers: Drogba 11, Malouda 41, Anelka 56, Ramires 74
06 Muamba (Davies 63)
08 Holden (Blake 87)
10 Petrov (Moreno 63)
03 A Cole
07 Ramires (Kalou 77)
12 Mikel (McEachran 72)