Latics started off the much brighter team and for the first 25 minutes dominated the encounter. Early efforts from Scharner and Zaki saw the Chelsea defence scrambling to block there shots.
Scharner had a guilt edged as he was put through one on one with Petr Cech by Kapo but the Austrian panicked and didn’t hit his shot as well as could do and the Chelsea stopper tipped the ball around his post.
Chelsea were looking far from convincing and their captain John Terry was having a mare as he lost the ball to Zaki, but in true Terry style he cleaned Zaki out rather than let him have a chance on goal. The free kick isn’t struck that well but it goes out for a corner as Cech flapped at it.
Bramble met the resulting in-swinging corner only for his effort to be desperately cleared off the line by Cole, the ball landed at Figueroa’s feet and his shot was cleared off the line this time by Terry.
Then totally against the run of play, Drogba fired a wild shot which drifted wide of the post, but the referee decided to give a corner even though there didn’t seem to be any contact by a Latics player.
Of course the corner comes in and is headed out to John Terry who hits a sweet volley straight at Kirkland only for Boyce to deflect it past the now stranded keeper. There is no doubt that if there hadn’t been the deflection it could have been saved.
Chelsea then started to get in the game but most of their attacks didn’t amount to anything. Lampard, Anelka and Drogba at best were just giving Kirkland catching practise, but Latic’s seem to fade after a great opening 25 minutes was rewarded with us falling behind.
The second half started like the first with us taking the initiative, but as has been lacking in the previous four or five games, the supply to Zaki up front is virtually non-existent, the Egyptian must be pulling his hair out as he always seems to get the ball when he on the sideline.
Chelsea was creating slightly more but nothing that Bramble and Boyce couldn’t handle. One scare was when Drogba chipped over Kirkland but his effort was covered well by Bramble who cleared the ball to safety. Bramble was immense in this game and was by far the man of the match with a near perfect defensive display.
Scharner and Cattermole were starting to get impatient and their long range efforts were not really troubling Cech. Rodallega was introduced and had his first chance immediately via a free kick, but after just coming on he launched the ball straight into the wall.
Scharner should have equalised after Figueroa put a pin point cross on to his head, but with the goal gaping in front of him he managed to head wide and it looked as though we were never going to score. Zaki then decided to gather the ball himself and go on a jinking run towards goal only for his shot to curl around the post.
We did however get the breakthrough on 82 minutes when Figueroa again provided a great cross in to the box where Kapo did brilliantly to get on the end of it and score the equaliser. We then should have kicked on but it was Chelsea who piled on the pressure.
Bramble and Co were fine until Ballack flicked a header on and Lampard seemed to push Melchiot in the back before the ball just hit his head and looped over Kirkland who was in no man’s land in between coming for the ball and staying on his line. The referee of course saw nothing wrong with Lampard’s challenge and the game ended 2-1.
Latics can take a lot from this game, the first goal should possibly have not been a corner and but for the deflection, Kirkland could have saved. The second goal is where the top 4 always seem to get away with it…. roll on West Ham, as with a similar performance and more players coming back we should be in with a great chance of a win on Wednesday.
Report by Jason Taylor