Chelsea v Rams - Report
Rams given six of the best by Chelsea
Another disastrous visit to London for Paul Jewell`s side, leaving Stamford Bridge with a 6-1 defeat against Chelsea on the back of a four goal haul from England international Frank Lampard, as Avram Grant`s team put their FA Cup nightmare at Barnsley behind them.
Robbie Savage was back in the Rams' line-up after missing out on the draw with Sunderland - returning in central midfield alongside Hossam Ghaly.
David Jones was among the substitutes, as was Dean Leacock, fit again after injury, while Derby's bench had an attacking feel to it with Robert Earnshaw and Tito Villa also among Paul Jewell's options.
The Rams looked organised in the opening ten minutes and the Bridge was strangely quiet given the importance of the game. But the Rams were under constant pressure from the home side and they suffered a blow on 13 minutes when Alan Stubbs, who had been in fine form over recent weeks, hobbled off with a calf problem to be replaced by Dean Leacock.
Lampard's early left-foot shot smacked against a post as the Blues threatened to liven up a low-key opening. The constant Blues pressure paid off on 26 minutes when they were rewarded a dubious penalty by Chris Foy.
Lampard`s surging run took him into the box and the England international fell under Leacock`s challenge, although there looked little contact. He picked himself up and stepped up to open the scoring by sending Roy Carroll the wrong way from the spot.
The Rams were close to a quick equaliser however as Kenny Miller rose to meet Eddie Lewis's free kick with a header, but it lacked direction and Carlo Cudicini stretched to gather.
It looked the Rams would hold on till half time at 1-0 but on 42 minutes Chelsea doubled their lead. Carroll raced off his line to thwart Nicolas Anelka, but the ball fell to Saloman Kalou 25-yards out and the striker coolly sent the ball into the net.
Carroll made amends for his error with an excellent save low to his left to keep out Kalou again moments later but when play resumed after the break, Chelsea were rampant.
Lampard went on a mazy run that finished with a shot that Joe Cole deflected wide, before Anelka headed a Kalou cross just wide.
The Rams were chasing shadows and the Blues soon made it 3-0, Anelka playing in Joe Cole down the right, the winger getting to the byeline and crossing for Lampard to tap in from close-range.
The Rams, who had battled for the first half an hour, were now being totally overran by a dominant Chelsea, Anelka raced clean through and after he saw his shot well saved by Carroll, Joe Cole followed up to slot into an empty net to make it 4-0
It got worse for the Rams, Kalou cut in from the left and found Lampard, the England midfielder rifled a shot into the bottom right-hand corner via Carroll's right hand to complete his hat-trick.
He was not finished either, and after a one-two with Joe Cole he fired low into the near corner to wrong-foot Carroll and grab his fourth.
The Rams got their consolation goal moments later, Miller's pass was deflected by Michael Essien and the ball fell kindly for second half substitute David Jones to beat Cudicini from close-range.
It doesn`t get any easier for the Rams, a visit to Pride Park from Sir Alex Ferguson`s Manchester United on Saturday.
The win leaves Chelsea five points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal with a game in hand on the Gunners.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack (Drogba 67), Makelele (Essien 73), Lampard, Joe Cole (Shevchenko 74), Anelka, Kalou.
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Alex.
Goals: Lampard 28 pen, Kalou 42, Lampard 57, Joe Cole 64, Lampard 66, 72.
Derby County: Carroll, Edworthy, Stubbs (Leacock 16), Moore, McEveley, Sterjovski, Ghaly (Earnshaw 52), Savage, Pearson, Lewis (Jones 58), Miller.
Subs Not Used: Price, Villa.
Goals: Jones 73.
Referre: Chris Foy (Merseyside).
Derby manager Paul Jewell:
'We are going to have to grit our teeth until next season now.
'The players tried their best, but as a group they just cannot compete with teams like these and this pace, they are playing at a different level to us.
'It is difficult to watch. It's a great league to be in if you are competitive, but there's no hiding place.'
'I think we have a good chance to win the Premier League.
'If we win our game in hand we are two points behind Arsenal and they have to play here at Stamford Bridge still.
'Their games are not against easy teams - there are still 10 games to go, anything can happen.'