Premier League – Drogba hits hat-trick in Chelsea romp
The promoted visitors could not live with Drogba, who struck once before the break and twice after it before he was withdrawn to save West Brom further embarrassment.
Chelsea’s six-goal haul took them top of the Premier League, ending Blackpool‘s brief stint at the summit.
The scary part for the rest of the division is that the champions did not play anywhere near their best. Their tempo was slower and their passing less slick than for most of last season – yet West Brom were totally outclassed.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti brought Petr Cech back to displace Hilario – the Czech a reassuring presence between the sticks. Lampard also shook off an ankle injury picked up against Hungary on Wednesday.
Chelsea had a disappointing pre-season, culminating with defeat in last Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley, but this played out like a particularly one-sided exhibition match.
In front of a subdued Stamford Bridge crowd, Chelsea strolled to a victory that was never in doubt as soon as Malouda opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
The Frenchman scored 11 times after the turn of the year last season, and has started the current campaign in similarly predatory fashion. It is a mystery why a sizeable constituency of Chelsea fans prefer Joe Cole.
The match ambled along, with West Brom’s best effort coming from Graham Dorrans, whose deflected shot brought a decent save from Cech. At the other end, Carson parried a Lampard free-kick and Malouda headed the rebound over.
When the second came, it was as soft as Premier League goals come. Drogba bought a free-kick off Gabriel Tamas 30 yards out and struck his shot at the wall – only the masonry crumbled, allowing the ball through.
Carson should still have saved it, but the ball skipped off the turf and went over his gloves. A dismal collective effort from the promoted side.
Chelsea scored a century of Premier League goals last term, including four hauls of seven or more, and they quietly went about running up the score against dishevelled opponents.
Drogba made it three following more poor defending from set-pieces. John Terry headed a corner goalwards, it was blocked but West Ham failed to clear and the striker slammed in a left-foot shot from close range.
On 68 minutes, Drogba completed his hat-trick with a shot from the edge of the box that owed much to a Tamas deflection that completely wrong-footed Carson.
There was still time for Malouda to pour on the agony, latching on to an Anelka through ball, rounding Carson and firing in off the post.
Readers in the UK can watch highlights of this match right here on Monday morning.
Alex Chick / Eurosport