Villas-Boas thank Lampard for saving his job

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Frank Lampard’s dramatic 89th-minute goal eased the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea ended a four-game winless streak in the English Premier League with a 2-1 win at Wolves.

Brazil midfielder Ramires struck in the 54th minute at Molineux on Monday to hand the Blues the lead but Stephen Ward looked to have rescued a point for the home team with an 84th-minute equaliser.

However, Lampard, whose first-half tackle on Adam Hammill could easily have warranted more than the booking he received, fired in from close range late on.

Having gained just three points from their previous four league matches, this victory was a significant boost to the Blues’ Champions League hopes. Daniel Sturridge and Didier Drogba were both notable absentees for Chelsea, who recalled Lampard, Fernando Torres and Jose Bosingwa following their weekend defeat by Aston Villa.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy made five changes from Saturday’s team which drew with Bolton and handed a debut to Emmanuel Frimpong, the January loan signing from Arsenal.

Chelsea began purposefully and had a chance to take the lead in the ninth minute when a defensive mix-up between Roger Johnson and Christophe Berra saw possession gifted to Torres, who slotted in Juan Mata only for his clipped effort to be cleared to safety by Richard Stearman.

More good defending by right-back Stearman saw him make a fine interception to deny Lampard after another threaded through-ball from Torres, while Ramires lashed into the side netting from a narrow angle in the 13th minute.

The home crowd were incensed when Lampard received only a caution for a lunge on Hammill, who himself soon earned a booking for a bodycheck on Ashley Cole.

Karl Henry, Kevin Doyle and Oriol Romeu all quickly followed with yellow cards of their own as the contest descended into a scrappy affair.

It coincided with Wolves’ best period of the first half and they were unfortunate when Roger Johnson headed a Hammill delivery against the post.

Their best chance of the half came shortly afterwards when Ward rose unmarked to meet another Hammill set-piece only to head wide.

Both sides had opportunities before half-time with Bosingwa’s shot acrobatically pushed away by Wayne Hennessey for a corner, which was headed over by John Terry, while Doyle dragged a shot past the post.

McCarthy responded by introducing England international Matt Jarvis in place of Anthony Forde after the break.

The winger almost made an instant impact when his cross picked out the advancing Hammill, whose vicious strike was blocked by Terry.

Hammill threatened again when he curled over the crossbar from the edge of the area and it proved a costly miss as Chelsea took the lead.

Juan Mata’s corner fell to Ramires 10 yards out and he spun Ward before firing a rising shot into the top-left corner.

Chelsea’s players headed straight for the visiting dug-out to celebrate with their under-pressure manager.

Mata twice threatened before he was substituted for Josh McEachran in the 83rd minute and within a minute Wolves were level with a goal out of nothing.

Substitute Steven Fletcher attempted to strike Jarvis’ lofted ball goalwards yet instead it skewed into the path of Ward who drove a low shot beyond Cech.

However, Lampard had the final say when he slid in to convert Cole’s cross from close range with just a minute of normal time remaining.

Results of English Premier League matches:

Aston Villa 0 Swansea 2
Blackburn 1 Stoke 2
Fulham 2 Arsenal 1
QPR 1 Norwich 2
Wolves 1 Chelsea 2

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