Mon, May 02, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Chelsea secures the title

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL After five decades, the Blues once again rule the English Premier League, losing only one league match all season long

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, BERLINAP, SAINT-DENIS, FRANCE

Chelsea's Frank Lampard celebrates after scoring against Bolton at The Reebok Stadium in Bolton, England on Saturday. He scored twice to help the Blues clinch the English Premier League title with the 2-0 win.

PHOTO: AFP

Frank Lampard shot Chelsea to its first English league title in 50 years on Saturday as Jose Mourinho's team beat Bolton 2-0.

The England midfielder struck in the 60th and 76th minutes at the Reebok Stadium and the Blues now have an unbeatable 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Second-place Arsenal, last year's champion, goes to West Bromwich Albion on Monday but, with only four games to play, can't catch Chelsea, whose only other league title was in 1955.

Mourinho's team has lost just one league match all season and has 88 points from 35 games, including 27 victories.

Chelsea also won the League Cup by beating Liverpool 3-2 in the final and is on course for a treble in Mourinho's first season. The Blues meet Liverpool at Anfield in the second-leg semifinal of the Champions League on Tuesday, the two teams drew 0-0 in the first leg.

"This group is really special," he said. "That's why I want to stay with them for the maximum time, maybe for longer than the contract I have.

"Nobody speaking with fairness and sense can say we don't deserve this title. But the players deserve this more than anybody and I'm very happy for the fans. Anyone who is less than 50 has never won this championship."

Lampard, whose goals took him ahead of striker Didier Drogba as Chelsea's top scorer this season, said he wanted to make up for a bad miss in Wednesday's Champions League semifinal against Liverpool.

"I felt I owed the fans one after that miss in midweek. This was the best way to repay them," he said.

"We wanted to win the league first -- now we want to beat Liverpool. This is a moment I will enjoy for the rest of my life. It is a great relief after 50 years for the fans and for everyone."

Team captain John Terry said Mourinho was angry with his players at halftime for a poor performance in the early stages.

"We did not start too well in the first half and we got a bit of a telling off. The response was perfect," the England defender said.

"It is the best feeling ever. It's been a long time coming, the supporters have been waiting a long time and they fully deserve it."

Bolton threatened to put the celebrations on hold for at least another week. But Greek forward Stelios Giannakopoulos fired tamely at Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who then made saves from Gary Speed and Fernando Hierro.

Chelsea appeared jittery at the back but finally gave its noisy fans something to cheer when Lampard struck with his first goal.

The England midfielder collected a headed pass from Drogba, shrugged off Vincent Candela and spun inside Tal Ben Haim before shooting right-footed past 'keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Cech, who has had 23 shutouts this season, rescued Chelsea with a reflex save to stop teammate Geremi heading a long throw in by Speed into his own net.

The second goal came 14 minutes from the end on a breakaway with Bolton caught upfield. Lampard was put clear of the defense and dribbled around Jaaskelainen before rolling the ball into an empty net.

After referee Steve Dunn blew the final whistle, the celebrations began. Mourinho hugged his players as they sprayed champagne over each other while billionaire club owner Roman Abramovich applauded from the VIP box.

Ivan Sproule and Scott Brown scored two goals in two minutes as Hibernian stunned Celtic 3-1 at Parkhead to boost Rangers' chances of winning the Scottish title.

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