Chelsea 2-1 Watford

By Mark Wiltshire

Chelsea stay unbeaten this century but this game was notable because they posted their first win at Stamford Bridge in the top flight over Watford, a side still searching for their first win in the new millennium.

A second-minute header from French international Marcel Desailly was cancelled by a well-deserved Allan Smart equaliser but Jon Harleys first goal for Chelsea in the 65th minute secured the fifth straight win for Gianluca Viallis side.

The writing was on the wall for the Premierships bottom club after precisely one minute and 24 seconds. A Gianfranco Zola free-kick from the left flank was met powerfully by Desailly who rose to head home past Alec Chamberlain at his near post for his first goal of the season.

The Blues fans could have been excused for expecting nothing less than a goal feast but Watford, mindful their shock win at Vicarage Road in September, hit back and nearly scored.

Peter Kennedys free-kick was flicked on by Nordin Wooter and landed at the feet of Smart whose volley crashed against the bar. The rebound fell invitingly to Mark Williams who could only prod it against the post.

Gustavo Poyet and Dan Petrescu both came close for Chelsea. The Uruguayan headed over from close-range and the Romanian drilled his shot straight at Chamberlain after cutting inside Steve Palmer.

However, Ed De Goey's 14th clean sheet in 20 home matches was to be denied as battling Watford deservedly got on level terms as Smart showed a likening to scoring against the West London side.

Defender Mark Williams free-kick was volleyed by Helguson that was too hot for the Dutch keeper to handle and Smart was on hand to provide a tidy finish to the rebound. Previously, his only goal this season was the winner between the two sides back in September.

The goal revitalised the Hornets and a Kennedy free-kick caused an almighty scramble in the Chelsea goalmouth and then the Ulster man unleashed a ferocious left-foot drive from 30 yards that flashed inches over the bar.

Watford carried on at the beginning of the second-half where they left off on top. De Goey was nearly fooled by a Palmer cross that was affected by the wind but, against the run of play, Chelsea were back in the lead.

Didier Deschamps began the move, finding Petrescus overlapping run on the right-wing. His cross was met powerfully by Jon Harleys head, who had appeared on the blind side with a perfectly timed run to grab his first senior goal.

Chelsea: De Goey, Lambourde (Ferrer 58), Desailly, Thome, Harley, Petrescu, Deschamps, Morris, Poyet, Zola, Flo.
Subs Not Used: Ambrosetti, Cudicini, Della Bona, Wolleaston.
Booked: Morris.
Goals: Desailly 2, Harley 65.

Watford: Chamberlain, Palmer, Page, Williams, Gibbs, Hyde, Bonnot (Miller 87), Kennedy, Wooter (Ngonge 80), Smart, Helguson.
Subs Not Used: Day, Robinson, Smith.
Booked: Hyde, Helguson.
Goals: Smart 39.

Att: 34,928
Ref: S Dunn (Bristol).