West Brom 1-0 Chelsea: Sunday Mirror match report
Published 21:30 03/03/12 By Ralph Ellis
They have started an investigation at Chelsea into a smoke grenade that was let off in the junior dressing rooms at the training ground.
But that was nothing compared to what will follow the bomb that West Brom defender Gareth McAuley put under Andre Villas-Boas yesterday.
McAuley, who had never played a Premier League game before this season, was all on his own in the six-yard box to score eight minutes from the end.
It’s a goal that could have explosive consequences, leaving Roman Abramovich’s club three points outside the top four, facing exit from the Champions League and having to manage a tricky FA Cup replay in two days time at Birmingham for good measure.
Villas-Boas admitted: “A goal earlier would have given us an extra motivation, but to be fair I don’t think we deserved anything.
“During the 90 mintues West Brom had a fair percentage of chances, they were superior, they managed to give us lots of problems, there was good intensity in their game and I think you have to give credit where it is due. We were not good enough.”
Delighted West Brom boss Roy Hodgson said: “I did think we played well, the performance was good form start to finish and was made even better because we had changes forced on us during the match by injury.
“We can feel as a team very proud of our performance. At any time in this League when you win three games in a row you must be happy.”
When AVB was first at Stamford Bridge in the Jose Mourinho era, he built his reputation by producing detailed scouting reports of the opposition.
It didn’t need detail to describe his Chelsea team yesterday. You could do it in one word – ordinary. And the morale of the side was summed up when barely six of their players could be bothered to go to the visiting fans at the final whistle while the rest disappeared down the tunnel.
Significantly that group included Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, two of the players AVB is trying to usher towards the exit door.
But on this showing there’s every chance it will be the young manager who is packing his bags and leaving first.
Albion, on the back of a 4-0 win over Sunderland, snapped into tackles from the off and Chelsea’s players didn’t fancy it.
West Brom had not taken so much as a point off Chelsea in 11 previous meeting in the Premier league, but clearly thought there would never be a better day to change that record.
The game was barely a minute old when Keith Andrews hit Frank Lampard with a crunching but fair tackle that set the tone. And with only seven minutes gone, Petr Cech had to stretch to tip a fierce drive by James Morrison over the bar – the first of a string of saves.
Striker Marc Antoine Fortune was full of energy with his bright yellow boots blazing a trail that was testing the partnership of Gary Cahill and David Luiz.
Hodgson added: “Fortune has been immense for us. He is getting anxious about scoring a goal but he shouldn’t because he is playing so well for the team and he caused their defenders all sorts of problems.”
With half an hour gone AVB switched Luiz to right-back and Branislav Ivanovic to centre-back to try to deal with Fortune.
Amazingly, that particular switch lasted no more than 10 minutes as Chelsea returned to plan A. Or was it B? None of their defenders seemed to know what they were doing.
True, Daniel Sturridge missed a chance either side of half time, but that was a brief punctuation to the overall pattern.
And the goal when it came was more than deserved. Keith Andrews was in space to get the ball from a deep Chris Brunt corner, his centre fell for Liam Ridgewell, and McAuley joyfully turned the ball in.
It was West Brom’s first win over Chelsea for 33 years. The consequences of the victory could be explosive..