Premier League leaders Chelsea turned on the power early on Saturday to beat 10-man West Bromwich Albion...
Premier League leaders Chelsea turned on the power early on Saturday to beat 10-man West Bromwich Albion 2-0, showing they had learned their lesson from a late scramble to win their last home game.
The Londoners looked determined to bury West Brom as quickly as possible, scoring twice in the first 25 minutes to claim their 10th victory from 12 games and extend their lead to seven points over second-placed Southampton who play on Monday.
The quick strikes ensured there was no repeat of the nervous fight to beat Queens Park Rangers on Nov. 1 when Chelsea needed a late penalty to win 2-1.
Against a directionless West Brom, captain John Terry nearly opened the scoring before Diego Costa used his chest to control a cross from Oscar and thump the ball home in the 12th minute, taking his league tally for the season to 11 from 10 games.
Fourteen minutes later, Belgium winger Eden Hazard shook off his marker to collect a corner from Cesc Fabregas and squeeze a shot past Ben Foster.
The visitors were reduced shortly afterwards to 10 men, when centre half Claudio Yacob jumped into a challenge on Costa with both feet raised, reinforcing Chelsea’s control with Hazard, Oscar and Willian cutting West Brom apart.
But for all their dominance, Chelsea failed to turn chances into goals and in the second half they looked content to preserve their energy for a Champions League Group G visit to Germany’s Schalke on Tuesday.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who this week said his side would not suffer from complacency despite their strong start to the season, was effusive about Chelsea’s first-half performance.
“The first half, I think, was brilliant, beautiful. The quality of football was high quality, another dimension, playing so fast, so well, so fluid,” he told reporters.
But Mourinho downplayed suggestions that his current Chelsea team are the best he has managed, including the side which won the English title twice during his first spell at the club.
“I cannot compare teams that won everything with teams that have won nothing,” he said, noting that only Terry and reserve striker Didier Drogba remained from that period.
“These guys, they have to win if they want to be seen as a great team. It’s not just about playing beautiful football or being autumn champions. They have to win titles.”