Premier League - Lampard scores four in Chelsea romp

Eurosport - Sat, 27 Mar 16:47:00 2010

Frank Lampard scored four as Chelsea thumped Aston Villa 7-1 at Stamford Bridge to send out a clear message to their title rivals.

Frank Lampard celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge - 0

The England midfielder hit two penalties and two from open play, Florent Malouda netted twice and Salomon Kalou grabbed another as Chelsea put in one of their best performances of the season - while doing their goal difference a world of good.

Victory saw Chelsea briefly climb two points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table ahead of next weekend's title showdown at Old Trafford, although the champions' 4-0 win at Bolton later in the day knocked the Blues back down into second place.

Lampard had already seen a sighter from 25 yards saved by Brad Friedel before he opened the scoring on 15 minutes. Malouda, once again excellent, was the architect and the Frenchman's whipped cross-shot evaded everyone as it bounced through to the far post, where Lampard slid in to notch his 21st goal of the season.

Number 22 was not far away, although not before Villa had levelled through Carew, himself in a rich vein of scoring form.

The Norwegian's fourth in his last three games was not dissimilar to Lampard's effort as Ashley Young's fiercely-struck cross-shot found its way through to him at the back stick. A simple finish was all that was required, such was the space afforded to him by the napping Yuri Zhirkov.

It was nothing less than Villa deserved at the time, yet Chelsea still went in at the break in the lead after referee Peter Walton pointed to the spot for a foul on Zhirkov by Collins just before the half-time whistle.

The Russian made amends for his earlier error by bursting onto a neat Malouda back heel before going down as Collins appeared to tread on his foot. Lampard converted from 12 yards in typically emphatic fashion.

Chelsea emerged for the second half in a far more focused mood and the hosts' improved play was duly rewarded as Malouda bagged his first of the day on 57 minutes, the Frenchman finishing off a fantastic passing move that ended with a cut-back from Zhirkov.

Zhirkov was again involved in Chelsea's fourth, winning a second penalty of the day as Richard Dunne paid the price for some sluggish defending. Again, Lampard did the business from the spot with the minimum of fuss to register a fifth hat-trick of his career.

Malouda was rewarded for another terrific all-round performance with a second on 68 minutes, this time Lampard turning creator to lay off Zhirkov's cross into his path. The Frenchman did the rest, firing in off the underside of the bar to make it 5-1.

Chelsea's sixth came in the 83rd minute as Kalou beat Friedel following some neat approach play by Anelka before Lampard completed the rout with his fourth and Chelsea's seventh in injury time.

Seven was perhaps harsh on Villa, but Martin O'Neill cannot have failed to be concerned by his side's total capitulation after the break which served to inflict a huge dent in their hopes of grabbing the final Champions League spot.

Mike Hytner / Eurosport

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