Chelsea Take Centenary Win (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
Chelsea celebrated their centenary by going 11 points clear at the head of The Premiership with a wasteful 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Didier Drogba managed to convert one of several great opportunities to give the hosts the win they so wanted, and ensure a joyous night at Stamford Bridge to mark 100 years of Chelsea Football Club.
Despite a veritable feats of chances in the first half, Chelsea had only managed to put one away - with Drogba going some way to make amends for a host of misses with a neatly taken opener on 26.
Eidur Gudjohnsen was not looking sharp, and he missed an early chance when he nodded John Terry's header well wide when any lesser touch would have given the hosts the perfect start.
West Brom were trying to be positive but Geoff Horsfield was scandalously caught offside, lashing the ball home only serving to underline how good an opportunity he had blown.
Drogba opted to shoot wastefully on the turn when Damien Duff was screaming for a simple pass, and the lively Joe Cole twice found superb passes into the perfect zone fail to find the Ivorian.
Drogba should have done better when he flicked a Duff cross wide, and was also denied by Russell Hoult - who was out quickly to stop an attempted lob.
But the 24 million striker finally opened his account when Irishman Duff shattered the brittle Baggies offside trap and cut back for a simple tap in past Hoult.
Horsfield was caught offside again as West Brom desperately sought an equaliser, firing into the net for the second time before spotting the flag, whilst Kevin Campbell fluffed a far post header under pressure from Robert Huth.
The visitors came out looking confident after the break, and despite yet more good work from Cole, looked positive that they could force their way back into the game.
Zoltan Gera, whose tidy attractive football is winning fans across The Premiership, found space on the edge of the box but curled narrowly wide to add a note of worry to the Chelsea fans' voices.
Frank Lampard is understandably looking tired from a season in which he is a virtual ever-present, but he reminded people of his ability when he squirmed through and fired narrowly over.
Drogba should have made sure of the result just after the hour mark doing everything right but slotting the wrong side of the post with Hoult well beaten.
Unbelievably he added another blot to his copy book soon after when he planted a perfect Cole cross wide of the post with his head when it looked easier to hit the target.
As if they needed it, Kanu reminded Chelsea of their slender lead when his technique allowed him a wonderful volley that Huth acrobatically headed over with Petr Cech scrambling across his goal.
If Drogba thought his series of embarrassing misses was over he was wrong - again failing to hit the target with a miscued shot with Hoult desperately trying to get back in his six-yard box.
Duff felt he should have had a penalty when he was clumsily bundled over by Martin Albrechtsen, but it was looking increasingly unlikely that a more emphatic scoreline was on the cards.
So it proved, and the size of the cheer at the final whistle suggested that there was an element of relief at picking up maximum points.
So credit to West Brom for making Chelsea worry, but another important victory has widened the gulf between a Blues side that look certain to pick up a title in their 100th year.
Chelsea Cech, Paulo Ferreira,
Terry, Huth, Gallas, Makelele, Cole (Kezman 86), Lampard, Duff (Smertin 90),
Gudjohnsen (Jarosik 74), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Ricardo Carvalho, Cudicini.
Goals: Drogba 26.
West Bromwich Albion Hoult,
Robinson, Gaardsoe, Clement, Albrechtsen, Gera, Richardson (Greening 86),
Wallwork, Horsfield (Earnshaw 83), Campbell, Kanu.
Subs Not Used: Scimeca, Moore, Kuszczak.
Referee: N Barry (N
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||West Bromwich Albion|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||3|
|15||Shots off Target||4|