Geremi Strike Nails Hammers  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 West Ham United 0

Geremi scores from a free kickA fine free-kick from Geremi ensured Chelsea kept pace with Manchester United at the top of The Premiership following a 1-0 home win over West Ham.

The London derby at Stamford Bridge failed to catch fire with neither goalkeeper tested frequently enough, but the result was a familiar and welcome one in West London with Jose Mourinho's Blues claiming their tenth win in 13 games.

It was Cameroon star Geremi who was the unlikely match-winner on 22 minutes as he curled a beautiful set-piece past Robert Green in The Hammers goal, and the reigning champions did just enough to ensure they go into next weekend's showdown against United in touching distance of their title rivals.

Unsurprisingly, given the fact they had not lost a home game since February 2004, the reigning champions looked assured in possession in a subdued opening, and their most potent threat early on was the aerial ability of John Terry with the skipper heading just off target from two corners.

Despite their disappointing 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough last weekend, Alan Pardew's Hammers were not short of confidence and endeavour, and Lee Bowyer had their first chance of the afternoon when he flashed over after Carlos Tevez, making his first start since October 1, found his team-mate with a cut-back.

The former Newcastle man was involved again after 11 minutes as the visitors looked to target a perceived weakness on Chelsea's right side, but after ducking past Geremi his low cross was unable to beat Carlo Cudicini with Bobby Zamora waiting to pounce.

The Blues continued to threaten from set-pieces, with Geremi and Lampard both taking shots at goal following an Arjen Robben corner, and it was from a free-kick that they took the lead when Danny Gabbidon earned himself a booking for hauling down Didier Drogba just outside the box after 22 minutes.

Everyone in Stamford Bridge expected the in-form Ivorian to take the set-piece but Geremi, standing studiously aside him, took The Hammers by surprise as he stepped up to curl a magnificent right-foot shot past Robert Green.

If Mourinho expected the super strike to shatter West Ham's confidence and open the proverbial floodgates he was to be disappointed, as, aside from a weak Drogba effort from outside the box, The Blues offered precious little in front of goal in the following exhanges.

The Hammers too were subdued with captain Nigel Reo-Coker skewing a long-range effort well wide on 36 minutes, but just as the first half was drawing to a close the game sprang into life somewhat.

First Robben was guilty of a glaring miss when Drogba laid off a Claude Makelele long throw to the Dutchman, as he somehow contrived to send his left-foot snap-shot wide of the far post from no more than eight yards out.

However West Ham also threatened and Reo-Coker - who became involved a heated dispute with Drogba as the half wore on - had a shot blocked by Ashley Cole at close range before Etherington sent a volley wide of the post after some great recovery work by Tevez.

The Blues were forced into a substitution at half-time with Khalid Boulahrouz being brought on for Ricardo Carvalho - who had sustained a knock- and within six minutes of the restart they could have scored a second when Lampard fired over after a neat reverse pass from the quiet Andrei Shevchenko.

Fully aware that, however formidable their home record, a 1-0 lead was hardly comfortable, Chelsea drove forward for a second and Drogba found himself ill-positioned to try and convert a low cross from Michael Essien after Spector failed to clear.

The Blues' attacks continued to suffer from a lack of quality at the crucial moment, with Essien failing with two attempts to beat Green after the keeper was unable to punch Lampard's cross clear, and Shevchenko continued to struggle somewhat with a weak long-range attempt.

Despite Chelsea's renewed dominance The Hammers still had the chance to draw level when Mullins fed Zamora with a lofted pass, but after controlling with his knee the striker drove a volley high and wide before Bowyer also suffered from a lack of composure when he lofted another shot off-target.

With 20 minutes to go Mourinho opted to replace the ineffectual Shevchenko and Joe Cole was introduced to face his former side, whilst Pardew shuffled his pack with Marlon Harewood coming on for Bobby Zamora.

The London derby was still lacking a spark, with Drogba shooting straight at Green, but Essien almost provided it when he collected the ball from Lampard, took stock of his position and lashed a low 20-yard drive that ricocheted off the upright.

The chance seem to galvanise Chelsea and it was then Terry's turn to be left wondering what might have been as he got away from Anton Ferdinand at a corner and headed too firmly into the ground to send the ball bouncing over the bar.

Chelsea thought they had clinched the win in the closing stages when Drogba beat Green with a well-guided effort, but the in-form striker was ruled offside when collecting Lampard's through-ball - and the England midfielder also went close with a further two efforts late on.

Although Chelsea suffered from some late jitters as West Ham threw everyone forward, they were largely untroubled as they closed out the kind of narrow yet deserved win that is invariably associated with likely title-winners.


Team Name

West Ham United





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Chelsea  Cudicini, A. Cole, Carvalho (Boulahrouz 45), Terry, Essien, Geremi, Lampard, Makelele, Drogba, Robben (Mikel 83), Shevchenko (J. Cole 68)
Subs Not Used  Hilario, Wright-Phillips
Booked  Lampard
 Geremi 22

West Ham United Green, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Mullins, Spector, Bowyer (McCartney 81), Etherington (Sheringham 81), Reo-Coker, Tevez, Zamora (Harewood 71)
Subs Not Used Kiraly, Dailly
Booked  Gabbidon, Tevez, Reo-Coker, Mullins

Attendance  41,916

Referee  M. Dean

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