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Chelsea 6-0 West Brom


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blueflags.jpgChelsea have signalled their intent to defend their Premier League crown with a stunning 6-0 demolition of newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion.

The hosts were ruthless and were able to romp to victory with apparent ease; the breakthrough taking a mere five minutes as Florent Malouda fired home. Didier Drogba opened his account for the season with a stunning free-kick before adding a further two strikes to complete the Premier League's first opening day treble since 1997.

Frank Lampard continued where he left off last season by finishing off a wonderful flowing move whilst Malouda showed excellent composure in the final moments to cap off a magnificent performance - rounding the beleaguered Scott Carson to record the biggest-ever opening weekend win in Premier League history.

And Israeli Yossi Benayoun also made his Stamford Bridge bow as Chelsea demonstrated they are still as formidable as ever at home - they've now scored 21 goals and kept successive clean sheets in their last three home matches.

Chelsea were boosted prior to kick-off with the return to fitness of Alex and Petr Cech, whilst Frank Lampard typically overcame injury doubts to take his place alongside Michael Essien, who was making his first appearance at Stamford Bridge for almost eight months.

West Bromwich manager Roberto di Matteo and his assistant Eddie Newton both received a warm welcome from the Blues faithful, but the greatest cheer was for Carlo Ancelotti as he emerged from the tunnel moments before the game started.

It only took five minutes for Chelsea to break the deadlock, with Malouda continuing his Stamford Bridge love affair. Shortly after Nicolas Anelka had forced Carson into a smart save, the Frenchman capitalised on less-than-convincing goalkeeping by the former England international as he spilled a Drogba free-kick inside the six yard box. Mikel took advantage and Malouda was on hand to slam home the loose ball.

At the other end, Cech had to react sharply to smother a deflected shot from Graham Dorrans that threatened to creep inside his near post, before a correct offside decision denied Roman Bednar an equalising goal.

Malouda then crashed a shot against the woodwork before Carson reacted brilliantly to parry away a lethal low free-kick from Lampard. Malouda followed up and should have done better with his headed effort, but the Baggies were offered momentary respite.

But as West Brom looked to be going in at half time having improved on their shortcomings in the opening exchanges, Drogba doubled the lead with an expertly-taken free-kick that offered Carson no chance.

The floodgates had been well and truly opened and the second half continued with Chelsea encouraged by their first half success in front of goal. Though a deflected Dorrans effort had caused some trouble at the back for the Blues, Drogba soon put the result beyond all doubt when he swept home from close range after a mêlée inside the penalty area.

Branislav Ivanovic entered the fray soon after to replace Paulo Ferreira who had been exposed on a number of occasions, just in time to see Lampard score the goal of the game. A beautiful passing movement down the left-hand side which featured Anelka, Malouda and Ashley Cole saw the England left-back played in to the area by a cute Anelka pass, which was in turn finished with aplomb by the marauding Lampard.

With Frank having secured his goal, he was withdrawn from the action and replaced by Yossi Benayoun who received a hearty welcome to Stamford Bridge from the Matthew Harding Stand.

Drogba soon completed his treble when his shot from 25 yards took a deflection off of Tamas and wrong-footed Carson as the Ivorian completed a second hat-trick in successive Premier League games.

But there was still time for the influential Malouda to add a layer of gloss to the performance with a sixth goal when Anelka played him through. The Frenchman showed admirable composure to round Carson and slide the ball home to complete the perfect afternoon for Carlo Ancelotti and his team.

Not bad for starters.

___________________________________________________________________

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira (Ivanovic 59), Alex, Terry ©, Cole; Essien, Mikel, Lampard (Benayoun 63); Anelka, Drogba (Kalou 69), Malouda

West Brom (4-5-1): Carson ©; Jara, Tamas, Ibanez, Cech; Mulumbu, Brunt; Morrison, Dorrans (Cox 67), Thomas (Barnes 83); Bednar (Miller 67)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 15, Florent MALOUDA

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