Frank Lampard finally got his first win as Chelsea boss this season with an away victory against Bournemouth which lifts Chelsea to 42 points.
Strikes from Benoit Badiashile and Joao Felix in the final eight minutes at Vitality Stadium earned the Blues a first success in almost two months to halt their six-game losing streak under interim boss Lampard.
The west London club looked like they would have to settle for a draw on the south coast after Cherries defender Matias Vina cancelled out Conor Gallagher’s early header.
Bournemouth also had the better of the chances before the late drama, with Dango Ouattara squandering a golden opening by heading over from inside the six-yard box.
Yet Badiashile and Felix punished that profligacy, leaving visiting fans to salute the overdue triumph with ironic chants of “we are staying up”.
Victory in Dorset moved the two-time European champions on to 42 points, three ahead of their hosts, albeit they remain in the bottom half of the table.
For Lampard personally, it was a first victory in 17 matches including his Everton days and his first with Chelsea in 832 days dating back to a 3-1 FA Cup success over Luton in January 2021 during his initial spell as manager.
The former Blues and England midfielder opted for five changes following Tuesday’s tame 3-1 defeat at Arsenal, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling among those dropped, while the Cherries were unchanged from the 4-1 thrashing of Leeds.
Gary O’Neil’s in-form hosts began brighter but after Jefferson Lerma, who scored twice last weekend, curled narrowly wide, Chelsea snatched a ninth-minute lead.
Trevoh Chalobah’s pass afforded N’Golo Kante time and space to deliver an inviting cross from the right wing and recalled midfielder Gallagher beat Adam Smith to the ball to divert a simple, close-range header beyond goalkeeper Neto.
Chelsea supporters responded to the early breakthrough with self-deprecating chants about avoiding relegation and “we’ve scored a goal” after seeing their side net for only the third time in nine outings.
Yet they were not ahead for long.
Uruguay left-back Vina claimed the 21st-minute equaliser, delightfully curling home via the right post from just inside the Blues’ 18-yard box following slick interplay involving Ryan Christie and Dominic Solanke.
The Roma loanee’s eye-catching leveller prompted calls of “sign him up” from home supporters, in addition to light-hearted taunts of “you’re going down with the scummers” directed at the away end and referencing local rivals Southampton.
While Chelsea have endured a torrid season under their American owners, Bournemouth have gone from strength to strength since Texas businessman Bill Foley completed his takeover in December.
O’Neil’s men, who won six of their previous nine fixtures to banish relegation fears, remained relatively comfortable for the rest of the half, with Chelsea short of ideas and looking toothless in attack.
The away team continued to monopolise the ball following the restart but the lack of creativity persisted.
At the other end, Badiashile turned behind Ouattara’s dangerous low cross while lively winger Christie rippled the side-netting.
Lampard, who suffered league and Carabao Cup defeats on this ground with Everton earlier this season, then saw his side survive a VAR check for a possible penalty when Thiago Silva slid in on Solanke before Vina was denied a second when his shot was pushed wide by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Ouattara should have given Bournemouth the lead 11 minutes from time when he somehow nodded over unmarked after Lerma headed a Lewis Cook corner back across goal.
That miss proved pivotal as Chelsea grabbed the three points with quick-fire goals in the closing stages.
Former Monaco defender Badiashile restored the Blues’ advantage in the 82nd minute, connecting with Hakim Ziyech’s searching free-kick into the box to volley beyond Neto and claim his first goal for the club.
Belated joy for Lampard was secured four minutes later as Felix put the result beyond doubt with a first-time finish after fellow substitute Sterling burst into the box and slipped the ball to his right.