Chelsea 1-1 West Ham

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy’s first-half volley put West Ham in front at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham held on for a draw.

Craig Bellamy volleyed the visitors in front, put Chelsea claimed Mark Noble handled the ball in the build-up.

The introduction of Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea and Nicolas Anelka levelled after a neat one-touch move.

Frank Lampard wanted a penalty after he was tripped by Lucas Neill, while Carlton Cole had a great chance to win it for West Ham at the death.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Luiz Felipe Scoalri’s Chelsea side who failed to turn their dominance into goals.

After Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at home to Hull on Saturday, Chelsea knew victory would send them a point clear at the top of the Premier League and they started like they meant business.

Zola, who spent seven seasons at Stamford Bridge, was given a rapturous reception by the home fans but any notion of sentiment soon disappeared as the visitors were put under immediate pressure.

Michael Ballack fired a left-footed shot well over the bar before Scott Parker denied Joe Cole having played a brilliant one-two with Lampard.

Alex headed a good chance wide but the Hammers managed to repel the initial wave of attacks and they continued to defend manfully as Chelsea failed to seriously test Robert Green’s goal.

Then, against the run of play, West Ham went in front in controversial circumstances.

Chelsea were caught out by a quick throw down the left and Noble controlled the ball with his shoulder before delivering for Bellamy to finish emphatically.

The home side were furious as referee Mike Riley ignored their claims that Noble had used his arm to control the ball, but any decision against the midfielder would have been harsh.

Ballack was booked for his part in the protests, while Ashley Cole soon followed his team-mate into the book for a late lunge on Noble as Chelsea’s frustration grew.

Green was finally called into action at the end of the first-half, but Anelka’s 18-yard effort never looked like troubling the 28-year-old.

Scolari was not afraid to change things at half-time and threw on Drogba in place of Ballack as the home side reverted to an attacking 4-3-3 formation.

The Ivory Coast striker was available again after suspension and had to settle for a place on the bench, but his introduction paid immediate dividends.

Drogba was involved in a delightful one-touch Chelsea move as he flicked the ball to Lampard who then played in Anelka to hammer home his 100th goal in the Premier League.

West Ham responded brilliantly and Carlton Cole had a great chance to restore his side’s lead but he failed to connect properly with Bellamy’s cut-back, before firing just wide of Petr Cech’s goal.

After that it was all Chelsea as they went in search of a winner.

The added threat of Drogba was causing West Ham problems and Lampard was the beneficiary of a knock down from the striker but he only succeeded in shooting straight at Green.

Drogba himself then called the West Ham goalkeeper into action as he got free in the box to rifle in a volley that was brilliantly saved by Green.

It was becoming an eventful afternoon for Green and his attempted punch clear had to be headed off the line and onto the crossbar by Scott Parker.

He soon atoned for that error as he produced a brilliant save from Drogba’s goalbound header as Chelsea hunted a winner.

They might have snatched victory in the dying minutes had Riley pointed to the spot after Lampard went down in the box when he appeared to be tripped by Hammers captain Neill.

However, their appeals were waved away and there was still time for Cole to test Cech in injury time as he raced clear but the Chelsea keeper was equal to his shot across goal.

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