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14:33 9th April 2011


Brave Latics unlucky to leave Bridge empty handed

Malouda 67


Report by Paul Chialton

A thrilling afternoon and a proud performance from Latics who were unfortunate to come away from Stamford Bridge with nothing to show for their hard-work and endeavour.

Florent Malouda scored the game's only goal, midway through the second-half, bundling home a Didier Drogba corner, but there was suspicion as to whether Ali Al Habsi had been fouled in the build-up, a push from Fernando Torres seemed to impede the Omani 'keeper.

Referee Howard Webb thought not and the away side were dealt a blow at a time when the game could have gone either way.

Chelsea had started the afternoon sharp but Latics quickly settled into proceedings, grew in confidence and before long were imposing themselves on the visitors' half, soaking up pressure midway through the first 45 minutes.

The response to going behind was excellent, and despite tired legs continued to deal with the home side's quest for a second, believing points were still on offer to take home.

An equaliser was on the cards as the home fans grew frustrated with their side's lack of conviction and composure, from which Latics capitalised and almost found a way through.

Ben Watson, who together with James McCarthy and Momo Diame battled hard against the dangerous Chelsea attack, chipped a ball for Franco Di Santo to feed from and although the Argentine's header troubled Petr Cech there wasn't quite enough power to find a way past the Czech 'keeper.

Chelsea were uncomfortable and needed a second goal to settle their nerves, Torres going in search of his first Chelsea goal was denied time and again, first by an outstanding Al Habsi reflex save, then by a timed last-ditch tackle from Emmerson Boyce inside the penalty area.

Maynor Figueroa further strengthened the defence and offered plenty going forwards, but his yellow card means he'll miss the next two games having picked up ten over the course of the season, a big miss given his superb performances over recent weeks.

Victor Moses was introduced for the final ten minutes and looked lively, desperate to make an impact and almost nicking in with the goal his side deserved.

Pouncing on a loose ball inside the area the winger shot from a tight angle having got ahead of the defender, but Cech was alert and smothered the effort wide.

A dramatic finish then at Stamford Bridge and one the players will feel disappointed to have got a result from, but a performance was key today and that's what Martinez got, his players are full of fight going into the final six games and on this form are more than a match for anyone.

Latics: Al Habsi; Boyce, G. Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa; Watson, Diame (Moses 81), McCarthy, N'Zogbia (Di Santo, 63), Cleverely, Rodallega (Sammon, 63)

Subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Gomez, Stam

Chelsea: Cech; Ferreira (Alex, 75), Ivanovic, Liuz, Cole; Ramires, Lampard, Mikel (Benayoun, 45), Malouda, Anelka (Torres, 59), Drogba

Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Zhirkov, Kalou

    Data provided by Press Association