Goals from David Luiz, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard handed beleaguered Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas some much needed breathing space, after a disastrous run of form for the London side, who managed only 1 win in their previous 7 games.
The Premier League game against bottom-of-the-table and relegation threatened Bolton was billed as the perfect pick-me-up tonic for the Blues, who were beaten comprehensively mid-week in the Champions League, by a more organised and energetic Napoli side. The English club face the Italians in the second leg of their tie on March 14 and will look to turn a 1-3 deficit around.
Meanwhile, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, following his controversial selection policy against Napoli (and reports that club owner Roman Abramovich had summoned his manager for an explanation), Villas-Boas restored left back Ashley Cole and midfielders Michael Essien and Frank Lampard to the starting line-up.
Chelsea went on the attack almost immediately, with both Cole and Drogba caught offside in the opening minutes, trying to profit from through balls by David Luiz. The first shot of the match was only minutes coming - Daniel Sturridge testing Bolton's Adam Bogdan in the 5th minute. Michael Essien and Drogba also fired off a couple of shots in the opening minutes, with on-loan winger from Arsenal, Ryo Miyachi, registering the visitors' first shot.
The sides then traded corners and fouls for a while, although neither side managed to score and the match looked in danger of petering out into a draw. However, Chelsea were certainly the more active side, with Sturridge, Cole, Ramires, Drogba and Ivanovic testing Bogdan. Bolton had little in the way of reply and aside from a couple of shots by Miyachi and one by Darren Pratley, were largely anonymous.
The first half, however, ended scoreless. Abramovich, who was in attendance, must certainly have had his thoughts full of the spectre of yet more dropped points, as his expensively assembled side remain only in contention for a Champions League spot, rather than mounting a challenge for the title.
The deadlock, however, was swiftly broken at the start of the second, when David Luiz, so often criticised for defensive errors, popped up in the Bolton box to give his side a deserved lead. Minutes later the Brazilian almost made it 2-0 but his header, following a Juan Mata corner, hit the post. The goal sparked Bolton to a little bit of life, with Nigel Reo-Coker, Sanli Tuncay and Pratley all taking potshots.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Chelsea's second, following a Lampard cross and a strong Drogba header, effectively killed the contest. Bolton did continue to try though but were clearly in trouble. The icing on the cake was Chelsea's third, courtesy Lampard, who slotted home in the 79th minute.
Incidentally, under-fire Spanish striker Fernando Torres (who replaced Drogba in the 76th minute) could have made it an even heavier defeat for the visitors... but he missed two late chances.
Chelsea 3 (Luiz 48', Drogba 61' and Lampard 79') beat Bolton 0
Chelsea now have 46 points from 26 games and sit in 4th place, 3 points ahead of Arsenal (who play local rivals Tottenham on Sunday). Chelsea's next game is on March 3, when they visit West Bromwich Albion for a league game.
Bolton Wanderers remain in 19th place in the league, with 20 points from their 25 games. Their next game is also on March 3, when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on league leaders Manchester City.