Highlights: Chelsea labour to earn crucial points in 1-0 triumph against West Ham
An unconvincing win for Chelsea which keeps distance with chasing Manchester City.
An intense game where it could have gone either way went in favour of the league leaders Chelsea who won their game against West Ham United at Upton Park 1-0. Eden Hazard scored the only goal of the match.
Jose Mourinho, fresh from Capital One Cup success, made two changes to the winning side at Wembley, with Thibaut Courtois returning in goal replacing Petr Cech and Oscar coming in for Willian. Nemanja Matic didn’t play and Kurt Zouma continued in his role as a central holding midfielder.
For West Ham, manager Sam Allardyce made only one change from the defeat against Crystal Palace with Kevin Nolan replacing Alex Song in midfield.
West Ham unlucky not to score
Both sides had an ordinary start – half-chances and missed opportunities and early bookings. Chances came and went for both the home and the away side.
As West Ham were slowly getting a grip on proceedings, against the run of play, Chelsea scored. Eden Hazard in the thick of things, again. Cesc Fabregas and Ramiers combined and the Blues were ahead. The home crowd were silenced but as the half progressed the Hammers grew in strength and threatened to break back.
The second half was all about West Ham’s efforts for an equaliser and inability to take their chances. Goalkeepers of both ends were at their best pulling off some stunning saves. The tackles were feisty and West Ham looked the better team by a mile.
Cheikhou Kouyate, Enner Valencia and Stewart Downing played brilliantly throughout the game. Specially Valencia and Kouyate were constanty troubling John Terry and co. The home fans were very unlucky not to see thier team score.
Chelsea remain at the top, five points clear of Manchester City with a game in hand, while West Ham have been handed back-to-back losses on home turf. They have slumped to 10th in the table.
With the season moving towards its climax, this result could be a crucial one in the title-deciding scenario.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Zouma, Fabregas; Ramires, Oscar (Willian 74), Hazard (Remy 90+6); Diego Costa (Drogba 90+3).
Unused subs Cech, Filipe Luis, Loftus-Cheek, Cuadrado.
Scorer Hazard 23
Booked Terry 15, Hazard 45+4, Fabregas 69, Drogba 90+7
West Ham (4-3-3): Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid (Collins 8), Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate (Nene 87), Nolan (c); Valencia, Sakho, Downing.
Unused subs Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Demel, Song, Jarvis, Nene.
Booked Kouyate 13, Collins 43, Nolan 67
Referee Andre Marriner
Possession - 50%-50%
Shots on target - 5-3
Yellow cards - 3-4