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English Premiership

Ancelotti wary despite win

PORTSMOUTH, March 25 – Carlo Ancelotti refused to declare Chelsea's end of season stutter was over despite a resounding 5-0 win at Premier League bottom club Portsmouth on Wednesday, which lifted his side to within a point of Manchester United at the top of the table.Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda both scored twice as Ancelotti’s side banished the memory of last week’s Champions League defeat by Inter Milan and subsequent 1-1 draw at Blackburn in style.

Blues manager Ancelotti said Chelsea’s season would only be back on track if they beat Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

"We needed to win and I hope the bad moment is finished," the Italian added. "We have to wait until Saturday because this is a very important test for us.

"We have lost confidence in the last week but we got back to playing good football and this is a good thing for the future.

"This performance gives us confidence. We are involved in the Premier League and FA Cup and have eight or nine games until the end of the season so we need to maintain this spirit."

He continued: "We needed a bit of luck for the first goal but after that we controlled the game and produced a good performance."

Chelsea had dropped only one point in their previous 13 Premier League meetings with Portsmouth but needed a helping hand to establish their authority 13 minutes before half-time.

There seemed little danger when David James raced out of his goal to clear Deco’s flick on but the England goalkeeper completely missed his kick and allowed Drogba to stroll through and slot the ball into an unguarded net.

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Ancelotti must have suspected the visitors’ luck was changing when Malouda escaped with only a yellow card after elbowing Portsmouth defender Ricardo Rocha, who was carried off with a suspected fractured cheekbone.

Malouda made the most of his reprieve by scoring twice in the space of ten minutes at the start of the second half before Drogba doubled his tally in the 77th minute.

However, the most important goal of an embarrassingly one-sided win could be England midfielder Frank Lampard’s stoppage-time tap in, which wiped out United’s goal difference advantage.

With Chelsea travelling to Old Trafford on April 3, Ancelotti knows his side might have to win all of their remaining seven league games to claim a first championship since 2006.

"If we win every game between now and the end of the season we will be champions," said the former AC Milan manager.

"We have to approach these seven games like cup finals. It will not be easy but it is important to stay involved in the race."

Ancelotti also backed Drogba to surpass his previous English season’s best of 33 goals after the Ivory Coast international reached the 30-goal mark against Portsmouth.

"It is a very important season for him but he is a fantastic striker and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in our final nine league and cup games. I hope he does not stop scoring."

Ancelotti’s opposite number Avram Grant could have been forgiven for casting an envious eye towards the visitors’ dugout.

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Grant knows all about the expectation levels at Stamford Bridge after being sacked despite leading Chelsea to within John Terry’s missed penalty of winning the 2008 European Cup final.

The Israeli could not even bring himself to attend the post-match press conference after a defeat which left cash-strapped Portsmouth, docked nine points last week for entering administration, all but resigned to relegation.

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