Chelsea Capture EPL Championship Title for 1st Time in 50 Years Behind Lampard Brace
LONDON (AP) - 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.
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 Didier 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.
Chelsea players celebrate at the Reebok Stadium after their victory ensured the Premiership title for the first time in fifty years.
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 while billionaire club owner Roman Abramovich applauded from the VIP box.
While Chelsea celebrated a long-awaited title triumph the rest of Saturday's program was dominated by the struggle to avoid relegation.
Henri Camara fired the winner two minutes from the end as Southampton climbed three spots from last place to the safety zone after a thrilling 4-3 victory over Norwich.
That result puts the Canaries in last place.
Crystal Palace fought out a 0-0 draw with Newcastle at St. James' Park to maintain its survival chances although Iain Dowie's team dropped one place back into the relegation zone. West Bromwich Albion slipped down to next-to-last spot.
The results mean that Southampton and Palace have 31 points from 36 games with Harry Redknapp's Saints holding a superior goal differential. Albion and Norwich have 30 with the Baggies holding a game in hand as well as a better goal difference.
Fourth-place Everton tumbled 2-0 at Fulham with United States' international striker Brian McBride scoring with a long-range header.
That result guaranteed Fulham's safety but the loss for Everton gave Liverpool a chance to trim its neighbor's advantage in the race for the fourth Premier League spot.
But Liverpool possibly distracted by Tuesday's Champions League semifinal showdown with Chelsea was held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored the second-half equalizer.
But there was plenty of excitement at St. Mary's where Saints and Norwich shared six goals in the first half.
Matt Oakley Peter Crouch and Graeme Le Saux netted for Southampton before halftime and the Norwich strikes came from David Bentley a Danny Higginbotham own goal and Leon McKenzie.
The game appeared to be headed for a tie until substitute Camara captured three vital points for Redknapp's team with a 25-yard (meter) half volley.
Birmingham came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1 and Manchester City made it six games in a row unbeaten under Stuart Pearce with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.
Sunday's games are: Tottenham vs. Aston Villa and Charlton vs. Manchester United.
After Sunderland clinched the League Championship title with a 2-1 victory at West Ham on Friday Wigan and Ipswich chased the second automatic promotion spot.
Wigan was held 1-1 by fourth-place Preston but Ipswich crushed Crewe 5-1 and both teams are tied on 84 points with one round of games to go next weekend.
At the bottom two-time European Cup winner Nottingham Forest dropped into the third tier of English soccer for the first time since 1951 after a 2-1 loss at Queens Park Rangers.