Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chelsea 6-0 West Bromwich: Drogba Hits Hat-Trick As Reigning Champions Storm To Top Of The Table

The champions have kicked off the defense of their title in fine style with a 6-0 demolition job over Roberto Di Matteo's promoted West Bromwich at Stamford Bridge.

The Baggies were always up against it after conceding with less than five minutes on the clock, with Florent Malouda scoring early for the Blues. A crucial second was bagged by Chelsea thanks to Didier Drogba before half-time and after the interval, the Ivorian found two more each side of a Lampard strike to put things well beyond the Baggies. Late on, Malouda found his second to round off a fine opening day for Carlo Ancelotti's title holders.

A lack of transfer signings so far meant the Blues' starting line-up featured the usual names that were the staple to success last term. Drogba and Nicolas Anelka both started up-front, ahead of a midfield diamond of Jon Obi Mikel, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard, who passed a late fitness test. Petr Cech, as expected, replaced Henrique Hilario between the sticks.

The Baggies were boosted ahead of kick-off with Graham Dorrans and new signing Pablo Ibanez both being passed fit to start. Scott Carson got the nod in goal, despite the signing of Boaz Myhill from Hull.

There was an urgency about the way Chelsea started the game and with less than five minutes on the clock the Baggies had the prospect of defending a dangerous free-kick on the edge of their box. Drogba was scythed down by Ibanez, and the Ivorian himself took charge of the free-kick and fired at goal. Carson could only palm the shot back out into the danger zone and Chelsea were quick to have men following in to attack the loose ball.

Mikel was first to it but mis-cued his attempt at goal. It didn't matter though as Malouda
was in the right place next to him to bury it easily and give the champions an early lead.

Getting breached at the back so quickly spelled danger for Roberto Di Matteo's side and the Blues could have gone two up moments later when Ashley Cole wasn't tracked down the left channel and was allowed to fire a delicious curling ball low across the goalmouth.

Thankfully for the Baggies, the cross was too quick for any of the Chelsea attack and skidded across the wet surface out of harms way.

The intensity with which the Blues started the game had to let up at some point and after holding on for the first 15 minutes, West Brom were finally allowed to settle into the game.

They had their first chance when a confident passing move up to their attack saw Dorrans turn into goal and let fly with a shot from outside the box. The ball took enough of a deflection to cause Cech to dive to his right and tip it around the post and avoid an unlikely equalizer.

As the game developed it was evident the Blues were allowing the Baggies more space to play but that did not mean the champions didn't look a sizable threat in attack. Malouda went inches from making matters much worse for the Baggies after he latched onto a Lampard mis-kick to the left of the box and hit a volley that bounced just wide at the far post.

West Brom were trying to cause problems at the other end but their attacks were snuffed out easily by John Terry and co. Jerome Thomas trying to get into shooting position in front of Cech by cutting inside on one foray forward meant he was easily stopped in his tracks by the Blues defense.

Down the other end and late in the half Chelsea threatened another time to go two-up. Drogba was again fouled in a promising position outside the box but this time he let Lampard take the free-kick and the Englishman fired a trademark power-shot at goal which Carson could only parry nervously.

The Baggies weren't learning from their mistakes and despite scrambling away the ball to safety that time, they had to set themselves up to defend yet another free-kick in stoppage time moments later. On this occasion the dead-ball chance was a little further out but that did not stop Drogba from stepping up, powering a shot through the wall and into the back of the net to give the Blues a crucial 2-0 lead going into the second period.

Blue tide | Chelsea celebrate Malouda's early opener

The game resumed with no changes from either side but the two-goal lead meant Di Matteo's side had the dangerous prospect of having to open up more and look for a way back into the game as a matter of urgency.

It was Chelsea though that threatened first after the break, a clever reverse flick from Essien almost let Paulo Ferreira a run at goal but Thomas was quick to deny the full-back with an excellent sliding tackle to dispossess him neatly.

Albion showed their teeth minutes later, again it was Dorrans going for goal but like in the first half, his shot was deflected wide and came to nothing.

It was crucial for West Brom that they scored the third goal of the match but unfortunately for the club, they did not look like they had enough up top to threaten. Chelsea though, very much had the quality to score, at will it seemed, and with 54 minutes on the clock, the champions found away through for the third.

A corner was awarded to the home side and Malouda's in-swinging cross was met first by Terry, who headed at goal. Youssouf Mulumbu was there on the line to block the ball from crossing the line but it bounced rather fortuitously to Drogba who took a step to the side and put it in the back of the net.

The visitors now had a mountain to climb but things were about to get a whole lot worse for them minutes later.

Three-nil down, Chelsea were finding it easy to run through a dejected Albion midfield and Lampard would profit from this when he was allowed to run into the box and given space to fire a neat shot into the bottom left of goal.

Albion had now truly given up the game and Chelsea were zipping the ball around threatening another hammering at the Bridge that became their trademark last season. And the champions delivered on their threat with a fifth goal.

Much how Lampard was not closed down in a dangerous position outside the box, the same luxury was afforded to Drogba who looked up and unleashed a thunderous effort that left Carson with no chance and his team embarrassed on the opening day.

As West Brom weren't getting their foot on the ball Chelsea were allowed the luxury of passing the ball around at will and it wasn't any surprise to see the title-holders hit a sixth through Florent Malouda just before the 90th minute.

And that was that, with the away side thoroughly beaten, Chelsea passed the ball around to wind down the clock and storm to the top of the league.

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