West Ham well beaten by Hazard-ous Chelsea as Lampard reaches landmark
PUBLISHED: 18:50 17 March 2013 | UPDATED: 18:53 17 March 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Chelsea 2 West Ham United 0
West Ham found themselves all washed-up with the Blues at rain-sodden Stamford Bridge, where ex-Hammer Frank Lampard put Chelsea on the road to victory with his 200th-goal for the club
That 18th-minute opener took the 94-times capped England midfielder to within just two strikes of the Blues all-time scoring record, before Eden Hazard sealed victory just after the break to send Rafa Benitez’s side up into third spot.
Kicking off in 13th-place a comfortable nine points clear of the drop-zone, West Ham made two changes from the side that had won at Stoke City 15 days earlier, as the Britannia Stadium super-subs Jack Collison and Ricardo Vaz Te came in for injured former Blues’ midfielder Joe Cole (hamstring) and the benched Matt Taylor.
And although Vaz Te blazed an early 25-yard free-kick high over, it was Chelsea’s ex-Hammer Demba Ba, who looked most threatening in the opening exchanges as Winston Reid was forced to block him on the edge of the six-yard box, before Lampard’s cross into the danger zone only missed the flying Senegal striker’s outstretched boot by the length of a stud.
Starting out in fourth-spot - a massive 22 points adrift of table-topping Manchester United - the last season’s Champions League winners had made four changes from the side that had made it into the last eight of the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Following their 3-2 aggregate win over Steaua Bucharest, Boleyn Ground old boys Lampard and Ba plus Gary Cahill and Victor Moses each came in for substitutes John Obi Mikel, Fernando Torres, John Terry and Oscar.
With the game starting at a frenetic pace, Lampard then sent Ba racing clear of the chugging Collins but the advancing Jaaskelainen just did enough to close down the angle and the Chelsea danger-man somehow scuffed wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the area.
In reply, Collins was a lot closer with a rising 25-yard free-kick that cleared Petr Cech’s crossbar by just an inch or so but back at the other end, another timely Reid intervention again denied Ba,
On 18 minutes, though Chelsea inevitably broke the deadlock, when Hazard let fly with a vicious 18-yarder that Jaaskelainen brilliantly beat aside, only for Moses to pick up the pieces and feed the Belgian once more.
Denied just seconds earlier, this time Hazard chipped the ball towards the far post, where the unmarked Lampard headed home his 14th goal of the season from eight yards, before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the disconsolate visiting fans.
Having seen Lampard hit his double-century for the Blues, on-loan, lone-striker Carroll thought that he had taken his Hammers tally to four, when he cleverly pulled down Matt Jarvis’ by-line cross and slotted beyond Cech.
But referee Michael Oliver ruled out his effort for a push on David Luiz, who had not needed too much persuading to hit the soaking Stamford Bridge turf, much to the annoyance of everyone claret and blue.
As the half-hour mark approached, Luiz then drilled a low 25-yard free kick through a dense forest of Hammers legs and only a last-gasp glove from Jaaskelainen ensured that the ball was diverted around the base of his left-hand upright.
Hazard also tested the falling Finn with a low curler, while Moses then drilled an angled effort inches beyond the far post, before Juan Mata and then Luiz both volleyed inches wide from distance.
As the interval neared, good work by Carroll enabled the supporting Mohamed Diame to have a rare sight of goal but Ramires bravely blocked with his body and, as the half drew to a close, Jaaskelainen twice thwarted the breaking Ba to ensure that the Hammers were still in the contest at the break.
Vaz Te had also given West Ham some hope with an added-time pile-driver that Cech had done well to hold but after Diame was replaced by Taylor for the restart, Big Sam’s side soon conceded a killer second.
Within just five minutes of the restart, Hazard played a one-two with Mata before leaving Joey O’Brien, Collins and Reid trailing in his wake and, having now made the journey from right-wing to penalty spot, the barnstorming Belgian made it a dozen for the season with a low shot that gave Jaaskelainen no chance.
Mata then forced the Hammers keeper into a low stop before Carroll’s 20-yarder steamed through the West End rain and into the clutches of Cech, who then saw the England striker head over the top a few minutes later.
On the hour, James Tomkins replaced Collins and midway through the half, an overlapping Gary O’Neil prodded a rising shot towards Cech, while Carroll then tested the Blues ‘keeper with yet another powerful header.
Reid and Guy Demel then collected booking for illegal challenges on the escaping Mata and Hazard, whose pain increased shortly afterwards, when O’Brien blocked his goal-bound effort on the line.
Late substitute Carlton Cole almost marked his return to Stamford Bridge with a late consolation but Cech saved and, in the dying moments Lampard might even have moved to within one of that record but nerves got the better of him and he fired over to leave Chelsea having to settle for a two-goal victory.
BLUES: Cech, Azpilicueta, A.Cole, Luiz (Terry 78), Cahill, Moses (Oscar 70) Ramires, Lampard (c), Mata (Mikel 85), Hazard, Ba. Unused subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Torres, Bertrand.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, Reid (c), Collins (Tomkins 61), O’Neil, Diame (Taylor h/t) Collison, Jarvis, Vaz Te (C. Cole 80), Carroll. Unused subs: Spiegel, McCartney, Pogatetz, Chamakh
Referee: Michael Oliver
Bookings: Reid (71), Demel (72)