A strike from Florent Malouda and substitute Salomon Kalou’s coolly taken shot in the second half ensured that we collected three points to extend our lead once again at the top of the Premiership Table.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti was handed a boost as Didier Drogba returned to the line-up, having missed the last two games owing to a virus. But Ramires did not recover from his ankle injury in time to make this game. Alex, Yossi Benayoun and Frank Lampard remain sidelined with their respective injuries.
For the away side, manager Mick McCarthy was without defender Jody Craddock, owing to a hip injury and captain Karl Henry following his red card against Wigan three weeks ago. Stephen Hunt was a doubt, but managed to earn a spot on the bench. Meanwhile, Adlene Guedioura and Ronald Zubar were out with injuries, while Michael Mancienne was unavailable to feature against his parent club.
So began a game with Wolves looking for their first victory since the opening day of the season.
We started in a rather sluggish manner and Wolves seemed in no real trouble during the early stages. But we soon found our footing when Jose Bosingwa fired a low shot from the right, but goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was equal to it as he tipped the ball away.
Wolves were showing some attacking intent, but were leaving their defence slightly exposed as they pushed forward.
This was all that we needed to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute.
Nicolas Anelka calmly opened the defence as he sent the ball to Yury Zhirkov, who played a lovely little reverse pass to set up Malouda for a good finish down the centre of goal.
A little past 30 minutes, Wolves were unable to capitalise on an unusual defensive error from skipper John Terry, as midfielder Nenad Milijas decided to be selfish and send in a poor shot straight to Cech, instead of playing it to Matt Jarvis, who appeared to be through on goal.
We continued to push forward to extend our lead, but were unable to do so as shots on goal were either wide or well defended, with Hahnemann producing a fine save to deny Bosingwa for a second time in the game.
In the meantime, Jarvis played in a floated cross towards the middle, but striker Kevin Doyle was unable to capitalise on it as it was inches higher from what would have otherwise been a headed goal.
Hunt was introduced after the break, and he was given his ceremonial rough reception from the Chelsea fans owing to the injury involving Petr Cech during his days at Reading. But with the boos still resonating round Stamford Bridge he almost put his side level with a header, but Michael Essien was on hand to clear the danger. Minutes later, Cech ensured we stay in the lead as he showed good reflexes after a shot from Doyle appeared to be on its way in.
At the other end, Drogba let one loose from range, but it went well over the bar. Not to be left out, Anelka followed suit a few minutes later.
A little past the hour mark, Hahnemann was a hero of sorts, as he came off his line, out of the box and got a tackle in to ensure that Drogba – who was in acres of space – couldn’t put the ball in the net.
With less than 20 minutes to go Ancelotti decided to bring on Kalou in place of Malouda to freshen up the attacking third of the pitch and the move paid off as he played a fantastic one-two with Essien before sending a low show into the back of the net.
We continued to move forward in search of a third, as McCarthy looked angry on the sidelines. He then introduced Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in place of Doyle to change things up front. A counter-attacking move involving Hunt saw the striker move clear, but the linesman raised his flag to indicate that he had been in an offside position as the ball was played.
As the referee brought the game to a halt we moved five points clear in the title race whilst Wolves continue their stay in the relegation zone with no wins in nine league games.
Gill Reeves CSG Disabled Rep