Nicolas Anelka's two strikes kept Chelsea at the top of the Premier League in a 2-0 victory at Blackburn on Sunday when the Blues marked Luiz Felipe Scolari's 60th birthday with their ninth away league triumph in a row.
Anelka deflected a shot from Jose Bosingwa past Blackburn's stranded goalkeeper Paul Robinson in the 40th minute and chipped the second over his body in the 68th at rainsoaked Ewood Park. The victory keeps Chelsea level on 29 points with Liverpool and ahead of the Reds on goal difference. Scolari's team has a stellar away record of six victories and a 16-1 goals differential away from Stamford Bridge. The Blues also won their final three away games last season.
Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0 on Saturday when Arsenal jumped into third place with a 2-1 victory over Manchester United. The game kicked off ahead of Sunday's other matches _ Aston Villa-Middlesbrough, Manchester City-Tottenham and Fulham-Newcastle. On a saturated Ewood Park playing surface in which players splashed through puddles and passes almost stopped, Anelka should have given Chelsea a fifth-minute lead when he collected a weak Blackburn backpass. The French striker got around goalkeeper Paul Robinson but fell on the slippery surface facing an empty net. Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech made a top quality, one-handed diving save from Chilean midfielder Carlos Villanueva before the Blues went ahead in the 39th helped by a huge stroke of good fortune.
Bosingwa's 30-meter (yard) shot struck Anelka on the knee and deflected past Robinson, the ball slowing off the wet turf and only just making it across the line.
However, Anelka's second in the 68th was well taken. Frank Lampard slid into a tackle just inside the area and pushed the ball through to the unmarked Anelka and, although Robinson raced off his line again, the Frenchman stayed on his feet to chip it over the goalkeeper's body.
Cech rescued Chelsea again by blocking a shot from Jason Roberts and Robinson pushed a 30-meter (yard) free kick by Lampard onto the Blackburn bar.
In Saturday's other games, Everton won 3-1 at West Ham, Bolton triumphed 1-0 at Hull, Portsmouth captured a 2-1 victory at Sunderland and Wigan and Stoke drew 0-0.