Baggies beaten by Blues
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea had a new face to the club as Stamford Bridge welcomed Andre Villas-Boas for his first competitive home match as the latest Blues boss together with assistant manager and former player Roberto Di Matteo as the game against West Bromwich Albion signalled Di Matteo’s last regime as manager there but the Baggies arrived at London’s SW6 under the guidance of Roy Hodgson. In goal for Chelsea was Henrique Hilario in place of the injured Petr Cech as the Blues look to extend an unbeaten run of nineteen matches against Albion. But the Baggies took a surprise lead on four minutes, after Alex paid the price for losing the ball in possession and Shane Long raced clean through to tuck the ball past Hilario and leave the Blues fans stunned by the opening goal. On the quarter hour mark, Hilario was forced into action with a near post block to keep out Paul Scharner’s solid strike from Chris Brunt’s through ball as West Brom kept pressing. The Blues finally threatened five minutes before the half time whistle, when Ashley Cole advanced forward and hit a shot towards the top corner but Ben Foster sprung into action to turn the ball over. After Youssouf Mulumbu tumbled on Fernando Torres, a free kick was driven in by Alex, low into Foster’s body but the Blues remained one down at the break after Foster comfortably collected the ball from a Nicolas Anelka header. But Chelsea got a stranglehold on the match on fifty two minutes, when Anelka weaved his way through the Baggies defence before rifling his shot through the legs of Jonas Olsson as the ball was deflected into the bottom left corner. It could have been a second for Anelka three minutes later but Foster frantically stopped his shot with his legs and Olsson then blocked the rebound from Florent Malouda. The Baggies could have added to their score on sixty one minutes after a majestic piece of skill by Somen Tchoyi, whose long distance strike produced a theatrical one handed stop by Hilario to divert the shot over the bar. On seventy five minutes Foster’s feet again defused a Chelsea attack, after Cole had run through. Another Chelsea opportunity ended six minutes later when Anelka steered the ball into the outside netting, after John Obi Mikel’s through ball had put Anelka clear. But the disappointment turned to joys on eighty three minutes, when Jose Bosingwa broke down the right flank and delivered a low cross to the far post, where an unmarked Malouda turned the ball into the centre of the goal to give Chelsea the lead. The Baggies were denied an equaliser by Hilario’s instinctive save on the line, after Peter Odemwingie’s volley from a Steven Reid cross with three minutes of normal time remaining which ensured that Chelsea collected the three points and gave Villas-Boas a winning start at home.