By Michael Harrold
Frank Lampard scored twice as Chelsea FC clinched their first English championship title in 50 years in their centenary season with a 2-0 win away to Bolton Wanderers FC at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
A determined first-half display from Bolton kept the game goalless at half-time, but Lampard opened the scoring on the hour, brushing off Vincent Candela's challenge before flashing a low shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen. That was Lampard's eleventh league goal of the season, and he made sure of the victory with his 12th, 16 minutes later, firing in after running clear of the Bolton defence.
The victory takes Chelsea 14 points clear of second-placed Arsenal FC, who cannot now catch their London rivals with four games remaining. Up next for Chelsea, is the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final against Liverpool FC on Tuesday, but on Saturday manager José Mourinho was enjoying the moment as he savoured victory in his debut season in English football.
"The whole group is a special group, no one can say we don't deserve this," he said. "We were absolutely magnificent. The players deserve this. My heart is with them. When we have to play we play, when we have to fight we fight, when we have to suffer we suffer. Always together."
Chelsea's joy contrasted with further frustration for Liverpool who warmed up for the midweek showdown at Anfield by drawing 1-1 at home to Middlesbrough FC. Steven Gerrard's stunning second-half strike earned Liverpool a point, but they missed a chance to further reduce the gap on fourth-placed Everton FC after their Merseyside rivals fell to a 2-0 defeat at Fulham FC.
At the other end of the table, Henri Camara's late winner gave Southampton FC a thrilling 4-3 win over relegation rivals Norwich City FC and lifted them clear of the relegation zone. Crystal Palace FC slipped into the bottom three on goal difference despite a 0-0 draw away to Newcastle United FC.
With two games left, Norwich are bottom on 30 points, West Bromwich Albion FC, who play Arsenal on Monday, are above them on goal difference and Palace are 18th on 31 points, trailing Southampton on goal difference. Elsewhere, Birmingham City FC defeated Blackburn Rovers FC 2-1 and Manchester City FC overcame Portsmouth FC 2-0. Tottenham Hotspur FC play Aston Villa FC on Sunday.
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