BLACKBURN (AFP) – Frank Lampard scored the only goal as Chelsea got back on track with a 1-0 victory over struggling Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Blues captain John Terry, who looks set to be named in the England squad for the friendlies with Spain and Sweden despite ongoing police and Football Association investigations into alleged racist abuse of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, was booed throughout by the home suppporters.
But Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas will be more concerned about a victory that eased the tension caused by two successive league defeats and also kept the Blues in touch with leaders Manchester City.
The visitors took the lead just after half time, with Lampard scoring his sixth goal in eight appearances before Chelsea went on to secure a first Premier League clean sheet since the opening weekend of the season.
Blackburn put up a defiant performance but have now won just three of their last 25 Premier League matches under beleaguered manager Steve Kean.
After their recent problems, Chelsea came close to a flying start, with Ashley Cole overlapping down the left and sending over a cross that an unmarked Daniel Sturridge failed to control at the far post.
And Lampard maintained the pressure with a stinging 25-yard shot that was held by Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
The hosts were cut open once again when Branislav Ivanovic clipped a ball through for Ramires, whose cross was blocked by Gael Givet.
But Rovers should have taken the lead when David Hoilett played through for Mauro Formica and the Argentinian’s cross was turned wide by Ayegbeni Yakubu under pressure from Cole and Petr Cech.
Cech needed seven minutes of treatment for a bleeding nose following the collision but he was able to play on and blocked a strike from the impressive Ruben Rochina.
At the other end, Chelsea had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Mike Dean after Sturridge went down in the area.
Disgruntled Blackburn fans were not allowed to bring banners inside Ewood Park due to health and safety concerns.
But those wishing to protest against manager Steve Kean still got their point across with a plane pulling a ‘Steve Kean out!’ banner circling above the stadium.
Kean’s fortunes suffered another blow when Congo defender Christopher Samba limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem just before the interval.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Florent Malouda appeared to have picked up a knock when he was blocked by Morten Gamst Pedersen in the opening period and he was replaced by Fernando Torres at half time.
But five minutes after half time, Chelsea took the lead when Ivanovic cut inside Hoilett and his left-foot cross was turned in by Lampard’s stooping header.
Cech’s nose may have been covered in plasters but he kept his side in front with an impressive double save.
The Czech must have seen Pedersen’s free kick late but managed a block before getting up to deny Formica from the follow-up.
Ramires was thwarted by Robinson shortly afterwards, but Cech was pressed into action once again when Yakubu burst away from Alex and hit a curling shot that was pushed away by the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Alex thumped a shot wide off the wall after Lampard took a free kick short and Ramires hacked off the line from Formica at the other end.
The hosts even hit the bar in the closing stages, when Givet’s header from Pedersen’s corner came back off the bar before Torres produced a poor miss at the other end.