Chelsea came from behind at West Brom to score a 3-1 win on Saturday, keeping alive their faint English Premier League title hopes.
Fernando Torres was dropped after another ineffective display in their Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United on Tuesday, with the Spaniard warming the bench while Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard all found the back of the net as Chelsea shook off Peter Odemwingie’s early opener.
Buoyed by a six-match unbeaten run under Roy Hodgson’s reign, Albion started with plenty of passion and Youssouf Mulumbu blazing over early on.
It proved a temporary reprieve, however, for Chelsea’s beleaguered backline as the Baggies broke the deadlock after 17 minutes with a stunning four-man move through the heart of midfield.
A surging Mulumbu found James Morrison, who quickly fed Jerome Thomas.
The winger’s flick forward released Odemwingie to advance and lift the ball cleverly over Petr Cech.
Yet West Brom’s notoriously fragile defence – which has now failed to register a clean sheet in 31 top-flight matches – was again breached as the Blues scored two goals inside four minutes.
Firstly, Scott Carson and Nicky Shorey both failed to deal with Florent Malouda’s 22nd-minute cross, allowing Drogba to tuck away a routine equaliser.
Carson then needlessly palmed Drogba’s wayward shot into Kalou’s path for another simple finish.
Carson went a way to make amends as he tipped over Lampard’s dipping 25-yard free kick, but the England midfielder sealed the points seconds before the break as he applied the finishing touches to another pinpoint Malouda cross from the left.
Drogba proved a constant menace throughout and, having attempted to beat Carson with a cheeky, dipping 40-yard effort that flew inches over, the striker’s clever pass came close to setting up both Lampard and Malouda as Chelsea threatened to repeat their six-goal mauling of Albion on the opening day of the season.
Chris Brunt wasted a simple Albion opening late on, but Chelsea continued to dominate as Kalou struck the crossbar and Torres saw an eight-minute cameo appearance spoilt when his 84th-minute shot was disallowed for offside.
Chelsea are eight points behind league-leaders Manchester United, with six games remaining.
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