Wolves 1 – 0 Chelsea. Frank Lampard made a losing return to the Chelsea hot-seat as Wolverhampton Wanderers eased their Premier League relegation worries with a hard-earned victory.
Chelsea legend Lampard was predictably given a rapturous reception from the travelling fans at Molineux following his appointment as caretaker manager 27 months after being sacked from the role.
Yet Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer was unable to arrest the poor form that led to Graham Potter’s sacking, as mid-table Blues failed to score for the third successive game en route to an 11th league defeat of the season.
Wolves were on the front-foot throughout and deserved their win which came after a sweet finish by Matheus Nunes, the Portugal midfielder’s first goal for the club since joining from Sporting Lisbon last August.
Nunes, who cost a club record £38m, beat Kepa Arrizabalaga with a fierce attempt from a tight angle after an attempted headed clearance by Kalidou Koulibaly.
Joao Felix forced a save from Jose Sa but Chelsea were disappointing and remain 11th after just two wins in 11 league games.
Lampard made it clear he wants to give supporters a team they are proud of after his stop-gap appointment, a move that buys Chelsea’s hierarchy time to get the next permanent appointment right.
Unfortunately it was the same old story for the Blues as they failed to score for the 12th time in the Premier League this season.
Lampard brought Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher back into the starting line-up but, on another frustrating day, both players picked up yellow cards and failed to make an impact.
There was also a rare sighting off the bench of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his first action since 26 February, as Chelsea continued their dismal run of just one league win on the road since mid-October.
Lampard is looking to use this short-term opportunity to repair his reputation after damaging sackings at Chelsea and Everton, and land a permanent job elsewhere in the Premier League for next season.
If he is to do that, much better will be required going forward – starting with Wednesday’s trip to Real Madrid for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Lampard was originally due to be at the Bernabeu as a television pundit but instead now finds himself plotting to bring down the champions of Europe after his surprise appointment.
Julen Lopetegui’s first Premier League match in charge of Wolves was a 2-1 win at Lampard’s Everton on 26 December.
And the former Real Madrid and Spain boss once again got the better of the former England midfielder as Wolves turned on the style to move four points clear of the relegation zone.
Nunes will get the headlines for his excellent finish, but Wolves’ second win in eight games was built on solid foundations at the back as they restricted their opponents to just one attempt on target.
“The goal is good news for the team, we’re happy for Nunes because it’s three points, not only the goal but to have three points more means you have done very good work,” said Lopetegui.
“I prefer to highlight all the team. We are going to need them to achieve our aim at the end of the season.”
Wolves were well organised and could have won by a more handsome margin, former Chelsea forward Diego Costa denied from making it 2-0 by Kepa’s block.
Lopetegui’s team have been accused of being too slow getting the ball forward and not testing opposition goalkeepers enough this season.
But this was a much improved performance and these three points could go a long way to securing another season in the Premier League.
source – BBC