Premier League – Drogba hits hat-trick in Chelsea romp

Didier Drogba fired a hat-trick as Chelsea cruised to a 6-0 win against West Bromwich Albion in their Premier League opener at Stamford Bridge.

The promoted visitors could not live with Drogba, who struck once before the break and twice after it before he was withdrawn to save West Brom further embarrassment.

Florent Malouda bagged two goals, while Frank Lampard also got in on the act.

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.

It does not get much easier for Roberto Di Matteo‘s side – their next three away games are against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

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.

Goalkeeper Scott Carson spilt Drogba’s free-kick and saved John Obi Mikel‘s follow-up, but could do nothing as Malouda seized on the second rebound and swept it into the net.

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.

Next came the pick of the goals, as slick interplay from Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole allowed Lampard to sidefoot in from close range.

The England man was them promptly withdrawn to allow Yossi Benayoun‘s Premier League debut for Chelsea.

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

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