Chelsea cruise to victory
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
The class of Chelsea finally came to the fore at The Hawthorns as an impressive second half display helped them to a 4-1 success.
A dour display in the first half was enlightened in the second period as goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen, Damien Duff and Frank Lampard added gloss to another polished display.
Understandably, West Brom looked like a rudderless ship but their visitors have the type of resilience, patience and quality that is the hallmark of champions.
The football in the first period matched that of the atmosphere in The Hawthorns; subdued, patient and rather dull.
Under Jose Mourinho's stewardship Chelsea have become a side famed for their patience and without the physical threat of Didier Drogba, sideways passing and gentle probing was the order of the day in the Midlands.
Although it was Chelsea who enjoyed large spells of sustained possession, it was West Brom that fashioned the game's first opportunity, when Andy Johnson's devilish cross made Peter Cech look nervous in the Londoners' goal.
The Czech custodian would not be called into action again, in a half that was characterised by half-hearted distance drives and the occasional brave defensive block.
Diminutive striker Robert Earnshaw, recalled to the side by Albion caretaker boss Frank Burrows, fired wide after a neat turn and then Lampard was close to finding his range with a sighter from 18 yards.
West Brom's Zoltan Gera showed moments of mercurial magic but that neither side forced either keeper into a save, was testimony to the quality of the contest.
With both managers preparing their notes with regards to a half time stalemate, Chelsea found a breakthrough their laboured efforts ill-deserved.
Lampard swung over a corner deep from right to left that found the head of John Terry. The England defender directed his connection into the path of an unmarked William Gallas and the French stopper prodded home from a couple of yards.
Credit Mourinho for decisive action at the break and the introduction of Arjen Robben added pace and verve to a game that had lacked both.
The ineffective Joe Cole was withdrawn and like at Blackburn last week, his Dutch replacement was at the fulcrum of much of Chelsea's good work.
His first strike on goal struck the post at the start of the half, as Chelsea upped the tempo and began to assert their class on the proceedings.
Gallas struck a powerful shot from 20 yards that needed a tidy stop from Russell Hoult and from the resulting corner, Robben bent a beautiful curved effort wide.
Chelsea's warning went unheeded and on 50 minutes, Gudjohnsen netted with a close range diving header from Duff's measured delivery.
West Brom's response was immediate and came courtesy of Gera's cultured right foot. Kanu saw an effort on the turn cheaply parried back into play by Cech and the Hungarian's response was emphatic as he drilled home with power and precision from 18 yards.
The Hawthorns awoke from its post-Megson wake, only for Chelsea to ruin the script when they netted a third courtesy of Duff's excellent finish.
Lampard's hard running took the ball from his own box to Albion's and when Gudjohnsen's clever run took away two defenders, Duff finished with aplomb.
The increasingly influential England man then found the side netting before Gera forced a decent stop from Cech with another strike from distance.
With the game reaching its climax, Lampard took possession from Robben and bent a perfectly placed drive past Hoult from 20 yards for Chelsea's fourth and a goal his all round display deserved.
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|Team Name||West Bromwich Albion||Chelsea|
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5||8|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||2||8|
|Total Fouls Conceded||12||8|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||37||48|
|10||West Ham United||37||43|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||37||25|