A ruthless Chelsea display in east London saw us move up to third in the Barclays Premier League table, level on points with Liverpool, as a Frank Lampard brace and a well-taken Oscar goal secured a 3-0 win against West Ham United.
Lampard opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 21st minute after Oscar had been brought down by Jussi Jaaskelainen, and the Brazilian extended our lead 13 minutes later with a low drive from outside the box.
The Blues had been in control of proceedings for much of the game, and though West Ham briefly threatened during the second half, Lampard put the seal on a thoroughly deserved victory when he made it 3-0 12 minutes from time.
A first league win in three will undoubtedly please Jose Mourinho, particularly given the manner of the performance, and we head into Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with Basel in fine shape.
Mourinho made just the one change from the side which drew 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago, with John Mikel Obi coming into the starting line-up and Willian dropping down to the bench. Cesar Azpilicueta started at left-back for the third consecutive match, with Gary Cahill partnering captain John Terry. Lampard started against his former club and with Fernando Torres still unavailable, Samuel Eto’o led the line.
For the home side, Joe Cole made his first appearance against the Blues since leaving Stamford Bridge in 2010, with another former Blue, his namesake Carlton, starting on the bench.
With the Blues going into the game without a win in two Premier League matches, and the hosts looking for a first win in four, the importance of starting the game positively couldn’t be understated, and it was Chelsea looking the more dangerous during the opening exchanges.
The first moment of quality in the game came from Oscar, who picked out the run of Eden Hazard with a delightful pass. The Belgian’s cross was turned behind for a corner, and though Lampard’s delivery was a decent one, West Ham, through a combination of James Collins and Cole, managed to clear their lines.
Soon after, Hazard, who had started well, picked out the run of Eto’o just inside the penalty area, but as the striker looked to check back inside James Tomkins to get his shot away, the defender was able to get a touch on the ball to nullify the threat.
Sam Allardyce had set his side up to defend with as many players behind the ball as possible when we were in possession and it took until the 18th minute for them to threaten. Stewart Downing delivered a teasing ball from wide on the left, and as Kevin Nolan knocked it down into the path of Cole, Terry needed to be alert in order to make the block on his former team-mate.
Two minutes later, however, they were made to rue their missed opportunity as we took the lead.
A mistake in the Hammers’ defence presented an opening for Oscar, the Brazilian showed great awareness to nip in ahead of Jaaskelainen and, as he touched the ball past the ‘keeper he was brought down, leaving referee Chris Foy with little option but to award a penalty.
With the goal at Oscar’s mercy, had he been able to stay on his feet, it looked to be a foul which would bring Jaaskelainen’s evening to a premature conclusion. Foy, though, thought differently, and produced only a yellow card, much to the frustration of Mourinho and his players.
Lampard was the man entrusted with taking the kick and, in front of the Bobby Moore Stand, he crashed his penalty into the roof of the net. The home fans abused him, the away supporters celebrated wildly, but more importantly we had a crucial advantage.
It was Lampard’s fourth goal in five games against his former employers and his third successful spot-kick at Upton Park.
The goal sparked the Blues into life and we began to take control of proceedings. Lampard went close twice in quick succession; first with a right-footed strike which rolled narrowly wide and then with a header from an excellent Hazard cross.
Our threat was beginning to increase with every attack, and 13 minutes later it came as no surprise when we extended our lead.
Lampard was allowed time and space to play the ball into the feet of Hazard, who produced a delicate flick to release Oscar. The defenders retreated in numbers as the Chelsea number. 11 advanced, and with time to pick his spot, the youngster drilled his strike past Jaaskelainen into the bottom corner.
On the balance of play, the home side could have few complaints, and so concerned was Allardyce with the direction the game was heading in, he made a double substitution in order to galvanise his side, replacing Cole and Collison with Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga.
As the opening 45 minutes drew to a close Eto’o forced a brilliant stop from Jaaskelainen with a stunning effort from just inside the box, while a teasing Oscar cross had just a fraction too much pace on it for Lampard, who had made a trademark run in order to meet the delivery.
Not surprisingly given the manner of our first-half display, it was the same 11 players which emerged following the break, and with the likes of Juan Mata, Willian and Andre Schurrle on the bench, Mourinho had plenty of options when it came to making a switch.
Five minutes into the second half the game was almost put to bed when Cahill climbed highest to meet a Lampard corner, but West Ham had Mark Noble to thank for ensuring it remained 2-0 as the midfielder, stationed at the far post, volleyed off the line.
The second half began in a similar vein to how the first had finished, with the Blues seeing plenty of the ball and looking threatening every time we attacked, with one move in particular almost producing a stunning goal.
The tactical switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 certainly appeared to be paying off in a positive way, with the extra man in midfield allowing us to dictate the flow of the game.
As a rare West Ham attack broke down, Azpilicueta carried the ball out from the back and, after Oscar, Ramires and Eto’o had all exchanged passes, the Spanish defender, who had ran the length of the field, picked out the run of Oscar at the back post, but the Brazilian, when he looked set to score, could only guide his volley wide.
Eto’o, who had been energetic and industrious throughout, was desperate to join Lampard and Oscar on the scoresheet, and after being thwarted by Jaaskelainen earlier in the game he curled another wonderful strike inches over the bar.
While the Blues continued to dominate, however, it remained apparent that a solitary West Ham goal would alter the complexion of the contest, and it could – and probably should – have arrived midway through the second half.
Guy Demel evaded the challenge of Azpilicueta wide on the right and worked his way into the penalty area, his cross arrived at the feet of Maiga who looked certain to reduce the deficit, but somehow the substitute steered his shot wide of Petr Cech’s right-hand post.
With 14 minutes left to play Mourinho made his first substitution of the evening, replacing the impressive Eto’o with former Hammer Demba Ba, and the striker’s first task was to defend a corner after Branislav Ivanovic did brilliantly to head behind as Matt Jarvis looked to get on the end of a Downing cross.
Minutes later, though, the game was all but ended as a contest when we made it 3-0, with Lampard doubling his tally for the evening, reacting quickest to pounce on a wayward clearance and fire past Jaaskelainen.
It was a goal which sparked jubilant celebrations in front of the travelling Chelsea faithful, and one which had the home supporters heading for the exits in their droves.
Schurrle drew a save from Jaaskelainen in the closing minutes, before Ba saw a goal disallowed, but there could be no disputing the final outcome.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Mikel, Lampard; Oscar (Schurrle 79), Eto’o (Ba 76), Hazard.
Unused substitutes: Schwarzer, Cole, Essien, Mata, Willian.
Scorers Lampard (pen) 21 and 78, Oscar 34
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Tomkins, O’Brien; Collison (Maiga 40), Noble; Downing, Morrison, J Cole (Diame 40); Nolan (Jarvis 74).
Unused substitutes: Adrian, McCartney, Taylor, C Cole.
Booked Jaaskelainen 20