||Stanic 37, Zola 54
March 16, KO 16.05
Live on Sky Sports 1
Paul Hamon reporting
The relegation trap door looms ever larger for West Brom after
suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the Hawthorns.
For a team built around industry rather than
inventiveness, West Brom had little answer to the guile and enduring
artistry of the visitors, most notably Gianfranco Zola, whose magical
second half strike emphasised the gulf in class between the two sides.
These are troubled times for Baggies boss Gary Megson, whose problems
were made worse by first half injuries to Darren Moore and Derek
In contrast, Claudio Ranieri, celebrating his 100th game in charge of
the Blues, will feel delighted that his side managed to hold onto the
coat tails of Newcastle in their bid for Champions League football
And it was nothing less than his side deserved with the Baggies
failing to seriously trouble Carlo Cudicini.
Zola, at his irresistible best, was Chelsea's key man when the game
began to open up in the second half.
With both sides packing five men into the midfield, it took time for
the Londoners to impose themselves against a side buoyed by an
effusive home crowd.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink created the first genuine chance in the 24th
minute when an error from Neil Clement sent him clean through.
A fine save from Russel Hoult denied the Dutchman on that occasion and
the Baggies keeper went a long way to proving his England credentials.
With the influential Moore missing in the centre of the West Brom
defence, it was a cruel blow when Mario Stanic climbed highest to meet
Graeme Le Saux's corner kick in the 37th minute and put the visitors
The goal clearly deflated the spirits of West Brom, who were on the
back foot for most of the second half.
Hasselbaink was denied once again by the outstretched legs of Hoult
when clear through in the 49th minute.
However, five minutes later Zola played a wonderful one-two with
Hasselbaink before firing his right foot into the back of the net.
Chelsea went close to adding a third through Hasselbaink and Jesper
Gronkjaer, whose right foot volley was well saved once again.
West Brom: Hoult, Clement, Moore (James Chambers 15),
Sigurdsson, Balis, Udeze (Dichio 45), McInnes (Wallwork 15), Gregan,
Koumas, Roberts, Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Dobie.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Gallas,
Melchiot, Terry, Stanic (De Lucas 73), Le Saux (Desailly 82), Lampard,
Morris, Zola, Hasselbaink, Gudjohnsen (Gronkjaer 54).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Cole.
Ref: A D'Urso (Essex)