Hammers Go Bottom After Stamford Bridge Blow
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 24 Apr 2011 12:57:00
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West Ham United slipped to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League before a ball was even kicked at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and although the Hammers turned in an admirable performance, Chelsea won the London derby 3-0.

Avram Grant made four changes to the side that lost at home to Aston Villa last weekend. Matthew Upson was missing due to a chest infection so Danny Gabbidon deputised. Jonathan Spector started his first game for three months in place of Scott Parker; Manuel Da Costa came in after making a quick recovery from an injury sustained against Villa, Freddie Sears was given a start in midfield, while Demba Ba replaced Robbie Keane who dropped to the bench.

West Ham survived a scare as early as the 3rd minute when Florent Malouda was clean through on goal but Robert Green kept his cool and rushed out to block.

Chelsea kept the pressure up in the early stages but nothing was getting past the Hammers' rearguard.

However, the visitors started to exert pressure of their own, particularly when Ba tested Petr Cech on 24 minutes with a fierce effort that he did well to palm over for a corner.

Minutes later West Ham came even closer. Carlton Cole went on the counter-attack from a Chelsea corner and found Sears, who ran past Ashley Cole and delivered an excellent cross to the far post. Cech produced a quality save from Spector's diving header.

Despite pressure being applied at both ends of the pitch it was Sears who came very close to putting West Ham ahead on 31 minutes when his clever back-heel was expertly cleared off the line by Ashley Cole.

With one minute to go before half time all West Ham's hard work was undone as Ashley Cole whipped past Lars Jacobsen and his cut back set up West Ham's Nemesis, Frank Lampard who smashed the ball home and delighted in celebrating in front of the away support.

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West Ham started the second half well and at a ground where visiting teams don't expect to get many chances, the Hammers had a succession of good opportunities to level matters, the best of which came when Thomas Hitzlsperger's corner set up Da Costa, whose header was cleared off the line by Jon Obi Mikel.

On 58 minutes, just after former Hammer Yossi Benayoun had replaced Michael Essien, Mark Noble became the second Hammers' player in the space of a week to be stretched off and was replaced by Robbie Keane.

Minutes later action at both ends: first David Luiz crashed a 25-yard shot off the crossbar; then Ba was to test Cech again from distance. Finally from the loose ball Keane's effort was easily saved.

On 74 minutes Keane found himself clear and perhaps the chance of the game was wasted, as he dragged his effort wide with Cech stranded.

On 79 minutes Grant decided that a change needed to be made and replaced Cole with Frederic Piquionne. Three minutes later he replaced Sears with Victor Obinna.

On 84 minutes Fernando Torres, who had earlier come on for Diddier Drogba, and still looking to register his first goal in a Chelsea shirt, duly succeed. It had to happen against West Ham!!

That effort was followed by a third goal for Chelsea in injury time from Malouda. Seconds later referee Phil Dowd blew the final whistle and if 2-0 looked harsh, 3-0 was a travesty.

Hammers' fans need not worry though as it's only a trip to Manchester City to come next Sunday!!!

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