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Stephen Carr concedes a free kick for a foul on Didier Drogba. Michael Essien takes the free kick.
Sebastian Larsson produces a cross.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Gardner on Mikel. Mikel restarts play with the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Fernando Torres by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Bertrand.
Shot by Didier Drogba from inside the six-yard box clear the bar.
Frank Lampard takes the direct free kick.
Foul by Matt Derbyshire on Mikel, free kick awarded. Michael Essien takes the free kick.
Shot from just outside the area by Matt Derbyshire misses to the left of the target.
Curtis Davies replaces Stuart Parnaby.
Shot from just outside the area by Michael Essien goes over the bar.
Matt Derbyshire provided the assist for the goal.
Penalty awarded for a foul by Marinho David Luiz on Matt Derbyshire. Penalty taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson and scored. Chelsea 3-1 Birmingham.
Nicolas Anelka takes the outswinging corner, Stuart Parnaby makes a clearance.
The ball is crossed by Nicolas Anelka, blocked by Barry Ferguson.
Alexander Hleb leaves the field to be replaced by David Bentley. (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Matt Derbyshire coming on for Cameron Jerome.
Fernando Torres is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
Fernando Torres comes on in place of Salomon Kalou. Nicolas Anelka replaces Florent Malouda.
Ryan Bertrand fouled by Sebastian Larsson, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Bertrand takes the free kick.
Frank Lampard takes the outswinging corner, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Florent Malouda, John Terry takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
The ball is sent over by Ryan Bertrand, Florent Malouda grabs a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Chelsea 3-0 Birmingham.Assist on the goal came from Ryan Bertrand.
Mikel produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.
Centre by Ryan Bertrand, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
Ryan Bertrand on for Ashley Cole.
Outswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the right by-line, Header by Roger Johnson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
Alexander Hleb fouled by Mikel, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Craig Gardner.
Corner taken right-footed by Didier Drogba from the right by-line to the near post, Marinho David Luiz has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.
Unfair challenge on Salomon Kalou by Stuart Parnaby results in a free kick. Booking for Stuart Parnaby for unsporting behaviour. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Didier Drogba from right wing.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Essien on Alexander Hleb. Free kick taken by Sebastian Larsson.
Cameron Jerome is ruled offside. Marinho David Luiz takes the free kick.
Michael Essien has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Barry Ferguson fouled by Mikel, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Keith Fahey.
Frank Lampard takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
Paulo Ferreira sends in a cross, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Salomon Kalou misses to the right of the target.
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Marinho David Luiz.
Marinho David Luiz concedes a free kick for a foul on Barry Ferguson. Liam Ridgewell takes the direct free kick.
Didier Drogba crosses the ball, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
Corner taken right-footed by Didier Drogba, Barry Ferguson manages to make a clearance.
Marinho David Luiz challenges Alexander Hleb unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, save by Petr Cech.
Shot from deep inside the area by Didier Drogba clears the bar.
Outswinging corner taken by Frank Lampard from the right by-line, Header by Michael Essien from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
Didier Drogba takes a shot. Ben Foster makes a save.
Craig Gardner takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.
Marinho David Luiz produces a cross, Didier Drogba concedes a free kick for a foul on Ben Foster. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.
Florent Malouda fouled by Craig Gardner, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Florent Malouda.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephen Carr on Didier Drogba. Direct free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Stuart Parnaby on Salomon Kalou. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
Salomon Kalou fires in a goal from outside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 2-0 Birmingham.Assist by Didier Drogba.
Shot by Didier Drogba from outside the box goes high over the target.
Unfair challenge on Ashley Cole by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. John Terry restarts play with the free kick.
Cameron Jerome produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the target.
Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, save made by Petr Cech.
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Didier Drogba on Roger Johnson. Direct free kick taken by Ben Foster.
Didier Drogba is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Didier Drogba by Craig Gardner results in a free kick. John Terry takes the direct free kick.
Frank Lampard has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.
John Terry delivers the ball, Roger Johnson gets a block in.
Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Mikel.
Paulo Ferreira sends in a cross, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post, Michael Essien manages to make a clearance.
Michael Essien gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson. Free kick taken by Sebastian Larsson.
Corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from the right by-line to the near post, Liam Ridgewell manages to make a clearance.
Didier Drogba takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
The ball is swung over by Paulo Ferreira, Florent Malouda fires in a goal from close in to the top left corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-0 Birmingham.The assist for the goal came from Didier Drogba.
Alex and Ramires have failed to recover from hamstring injuries and will miss Chelsea's Barclays Premier League game against Birmingham.
The Brazilian duo were expected to be fit after sitting out Saturday's win at West Brom but will now be unavailable until after this weekend's clash with West Ham.
Chelsea are eight points behind United ahead of the leaders' trip to Newcastle on Tuesday.
A defeat or draw for Sir Alex Ferguson's men would give the Blues a slim chance of hauling themselves back into the title race but Ancelotti said: "The gap doesn't allow us to think we can win the title.
So it's better for us to think about preparing for the next game against Birmingham to try to win, and the other five games."
Much more realistic is overhauling second-placed Arsenal, which Chelsea will do if they beat Birmingham and the Gunners fail to win the north London derby.
However, Ancelotti once again demonstrated the level of expectation at Stamford Bridge by saying: "Second or third place is not important for Chelsea."
November's defeat at Birmingham was one result which the Blues might look back on as ultimately costing them their title.
"That game was one of our best performances this season. We didn't win and were really unlucky," said Ancelotti.
"They were in the relegation positions, but had very good results in the last few weeks. They're not out of fighting from relegation entirely, so they need to take a point tomorrow. It will be a tough game. They have good organisation and will try and play on the counter-attack, as they played against us in their home game."
Birmingham winger Jean Beausejour is back in contention after injury.
The Chile international missed the 1-1 draw at Blackburn and the 2-0 home success over Sunderland at the weekend with a hamstring strain.
City boss Alex McLeish, whose side defeated Chelsea 1-0 at St Andrew's in November, has no fresh injury concerns, but strikers Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins plus defender Martin Jiranek remain sidelined with groin problems.
McLeish knows it will be a major achievement to emulate their win over Chelsea in November, courtesy of Lee Bowyer's goal, or even obtain a point.
But he has been pleased with the response of his players in picking up seven points from the last three games.
He said: "Chelsea looked happier at West Brom on Saturday with the one player up front. We know if we get anything at Chelsea, we are punching above our weight. We got a bit of luck that day we beat Chelsea at our place, some great rearguard action, great goalkeeping.
"But I'm just really pleased with the way the players have responded in the recent games. Results can go against you due to no fault of your own, a decision, a bit of bad luck, but you must continue to give the performances.
"We've actually played some good football. Maybe we don't build up the way Barcelona and Arsenal do but then again not many teams do. But when we get the ball down, we've got some players who are terrific on the ball and you've seen that."
Malouda double sends Blues second
Carlo Ancelotti's decision to leave out Fernando Torres paid off as Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou fired Chelsea up to second in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-1 home win over Birmingham.
The champions beat Birmingham to become Manchester United's closest challengers, moving to within six points of the leaders and giving themselves a glimmer of hope of retaining their crown.
Once again looking far more comfortable in their tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation, Malouda and Kalou scored brilliant first-half goals, and the former struck again before Sebastian Larsson netted a consolation from the penalty spot.
Chelsea therefore capitalised on United's failure to win at Newcastle yesterday and, with a trip to Old Trafford to come, there is a slim chance they could yet snatch the title.
Realistically, though, they would need to win all their remaining games and, on the evidence of tonight, their best chance of doing so would be sticking with Drogba, Malouda and Kalou up front.
The failure of Torres - who came off the bench to extend his goal drought to 893 minutes - to earn a recall was significant as it was the first time he had not started after being on the bench in the previous match.
Ancelotti, who last week appeared all but resigned to losing his job, had clearly decided the disparity between his form and Drogba's was too severe to ignore.
With square pegs in square holes, it took Chelsea's front three less than three minutes to unlock Birmingham with a super goal.
John Terry sprayed the ball wide to the recalled Paulo Ferreira, whose cross was flicked on by Drogba for Malouda to crash home.
Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster, who had proven unbeatable in the reverse fixture at St Andrew's, almost fumbled Drogba's 25-yarder into his own net and was nearly chipped by the resurgent Ivory Coast striker.
Kalou was also not afraid to try his luck and produced a magnificent second goal in the 26th minute, turning away from Roger Johnson, side-stepping Stuart Parnaby and unleashing an unstoppable 20-yard shot into the corner of Foster's net.
Players were taking regular drinks breaks on what was a sweltering evening at Stamford Bridge.
But it was the visitors' defence which was feeling the heat as Drogba's snapshot forced Foster into a fingertip save, Kalou nodded over the bar, Foster saved Lampard's tame effort and Michael Essien hooked wide.
Birmingham's first-half chances fell to Cameron Jerome, whose Premier League goal drought stretches back to November.
The striker saw one effort tipped wide by Petr Cech and also saw a shot on the turn blocked after being set up by Alexander Hleb, who was handed his first start for two months despite saying this week he did not want to stay at the club when his loan expires.
Parnaby earned what proved the game's only booking for bringing down Kalou shortly after the restart, with Essien seeing his header from Drogba's resulting free-kick deflected behind.
Chelsea began to get sloppy and Johnson headed a corner just wide before Cole was replaced by Ryan Bertrand, the 21-year-old finally earning his debut after a career spent out on loan.
The newcomer took less than six minutes to make an impact, Malouda rising to head home his 62nd-minute cross unchallenged.
Torres had been warming up in the meantime and, with the game won, he and Nicolas Anelka made their entrance in the 67th minute, replacing Malouda and Kalou.
The remainder of the game became about whether Torres could end his 870-minute goal drought for club and country, 701 of them in a Chelsea shirt.
"He's gonna score in a minute", the Chelsea fans sang about their #50million man.
But it was Birmingham who got the next goal thanks to the latest in what is becoming an alarming collection of rash challenges from David Luiz.
The Brazilian clearly tripped substitute Matt Derbyshire and, after snatching the ball from team-mate Craig Gardner, Larsson stepped up to score.
Derbyshire also dragged wide after Anelka lost the ball in midfield.
With five minutes remaining, Larsson was penalised for a backpass but Drogba refused to give Torres the chance to break his duck, duly blazing the indirect free-kick over the bar.
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