Filed: Sunday, 9th April 2006
By: Matthew O'Greel
West Ham were well and truly thumped at Stamford Bridge this afternoon - despite playing for the majority of the game with a man advantage.
Chelsea - who are now just one win away from retaining their Premiership title - had been reduced to ten men as early as the 17th minute when midifelder Maniche was dismissed for a nasty tackle on Lionel Scaloni.
Yet the Hammers - who also had the benefit of leading 1-0 at that point - inexplicibly fell apart after the sending-off, and the Blues deservedly recorded their second win over Alan Pardew's side this season.
West Ham - who had spent the best part of the week on a supposed team-building exercise in Dubai (minus Israeli's Yossi Benayoun and Yaniv Katan who weren't allowed to join their team mates) - looked anything but refreshed and can probably count themselves lucky not to have conceded more, in what was possibly their worst performance of the season.
However things had looked so much brighter after just 10 minutes when James Collins rose highest to nod home a corner into Petr Cech's near-hand post, giving the visitors an unexpected early lead.
Maniche's dismissal for an over the top challenge followed seven minutes later but instead of lifting the Hammers it had the opposite effect, and the home side were level just 11 minutes later when Didier Drogba scored at the near post at the second attempt.
Just three minutes later Chelsea were ahead through Hernan Crespo, who scored from close range after a poor clearanace from the usually-reliable Danny Gabbidon, who was one of many way below par.
The Hammers reacted by sending Marlon Harewood to partner Dean Ashton up front in the second half, but it had little effect as Chelsea continued to control the game. The third goal arrived just nine minutes into the second half when more poor defending allowed Essien to hit the bar from close range before Barking-born John Terry netted the rebound from six yards.
By now West Ham - who managed just one shot on target in the second period - were in complete disarray, and it was no surprise when William Gallas added a fourth from no more than two yards on 69 minutes with the Hammers defence again static.
Pardew's side created just the one goalscoring opportunity thereafter; that coming when substitute Teddy Sheringham saw a goalbound shot cleared off the line right at the death.
All in all it was a desperately disappointing performance from Alan Pardew's side who, despite the defeat, remain in ninth spot in the table.
West Ham United: Hislop; Konchesky, Scaloni, Gabbidon, Collins; Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Benayoun (Sheringham 72), Harewood; Ashton (Zamora 84)
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