A second-half penalty from Frank Lampard spared Chelsea's blushes and gave them a 2-1 victory as bottom club Portsmouth threatened to dent the Blues' Barclays Premier League title ambitions.
Lampard scored from the spot in the 78th minute after Branislav Ivanovic had been fouled by Marc Wilson as Chelsea ended a four-match winless run in all competitions to restore their three-point lead at the top of the standings.
The strike also ruined former boss Avram Grant's return to Stamford Bridge after Pompey threatened to leave with a point when Frederic Piquionne's 50th-minute effort cancelled out a first-half goal from Nicolas Anelka.
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