Imperious Zola Sinks Baggies  (Sky Sports)

West Bromwich Albion 0 Chelsea 2

Gianfranco Zola
Zola: inspired goal
West Brom  0-2  Chelsea 
    Stanic 37, Zola 54
Barclaycard Premiership, 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 McInnes.

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 next season.

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 in front.

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.
Att: 27,024
Ref: A D'Urso (Essex)

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