Loss at Albion adds to AVB woe
Late McAuley winner for Baggies
Last Updated: 03/03/12 6:38pm
The pressure continues to build on Andre Villas-Boas after Chelsea tumbled to a 1-0 defeat to West Brom at The Hawthorns.
Gareth McAuley turned home the winner inside the final 10 minutes to give the Baggies all three points and it was no less than the home side deserved.
Chelsea were subdued throughout and offered little after the break to suggest there is any urgency in the camp turn things around.
And when Frank Lampard squandered a late chance it left Chelsea three points behind Arsenal in the battle for fourth place with just one win in their last six Premier League games.
In contrast, Roy Hodgson's side have now won three on the bounce in the league and find themselves in the top half of the table.
It had been an even and entertaining game in the first half with James Morrison testing Petr Cech as West Brom's high-tempo approach appeared to unsettle Chelsea.
The visitors still had their moments, however, with Daniel Sturridge wasting an excellent chance to give Chelsea the lead before the break.
And although Sturridge made a mess of another opportunity after the interval, Albion were the better side by that point and it was little surprise when McAuley grabbed his goal - heaping the pressure on Chelsea's beleaguered boss.
Chelsea threatened for the first time when Sturridge seized onto a casual pass from Jonas Olsson and squared the ball across the Baggies box.
But Juan Mata failed to make proper contact on his attempted volley.
Mata did hit the target from a narrow angle after some neat one-touch football. But Ben Foster was alert to the situation and blocked his shot at the expense of a corner.
Liam Ridgewell came to Albion's rescue when he blocked a goalbound attempt from Gary Cahill after a corner from Lampard had dropped invitingly into his path 15 yards out.
Foster showed his class seven minutes before the interval when he leapt acrobatically to turn aside a fierce Michael Essien effort.
The former England keeper reacted quickly to snatch the loose ball before Didier Drogba could take advantage.
Sturridge should have broken the deadlock after 40 minutes after a superb pass from Drogba created the opening.
But the striker screwed his attempt wide of the right-hand post after having time to line up his shot.
Albion ended the first half with a flourish as Cahill deflected a Youssouf Mulumbu shot just past the far post.
Sturridge missed another great chance to put the Blues in front after 55 minutes.
He ran onto a pass from Mata but then lacked the belief and confidence to take the ball around Foster who had raced out of his area.
Albion were forced into a change after 55 minutes when Steven Reid limped out of the action to be replaced by Gabriel Tamas.
Back in the game
The home side came back into the game and David Luiz did well to dispossess Peter Odemwingie after he had taken a pass from Fortune in his stride.
Cech then beat out a fierce rising shot from Marc-Antoine Fortune.
Ridgewell became the first player to be yellow carded after 65 minutes for a challenge on Ramires.
Albion enjoyed a purple patch and came close on three occasions to scoring in the space of five minutes.
Cech turned over a fierce drive from the impressive Mulumbu and also reacted sharply to block a low shot on the turn from Fortune.
Then it needed a last-ditch challenge from Ashley Cole to deny Chris Brunt as he closed in on a Ridgewell centre.
Fernando Torres replaced Essien after 76 minutes and within three minutes Keith Andrews had been booked for chopping down the striker.
But after 82 minutes McAuley put Albion ahead. Ridgewell drove Andrews' chip across the area and McAuley diverted the ball past CechCole was booked for fouling Albion substitute Shane Long who had replaced Fortune.
|West Bromwich Albion||Team Statistics||Chelsea|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|11||Shots off Target||6|
|45.7||1st Half Poss.||54.3|
|44.4||2nd Half Poss.||55.6|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||17||31|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||17||17|
|15||Queens Park Rangers||17||17|