Solitary strike ends fine run

Chelsea 1-0 West Ham United

West Ham United's six-game unbeaten run came to an end at Chelsea on Saturday afternoon with a solitary strike from Joe Cole all that separated the sides.

Cole scored in the 76th minute to ensure Chelsea made it 70 games without defeat at Stamford Bridge. Alan Curbishley's men, with Matthew Upson and Danny Gabbidon imperious at the back, had competed well in the derby but could not hold on. There were plenty of positives for the visitors, however, with Scott Parker, in for Mark Noble, and Carlton Cole impressing on their return to Chelsea.

The home side were the first to show. Frank Lampard smashed in a free-kick that hit the wall on nine minutes, before Didier Drogba tried his luck from distance. It was 21 minutes before the visitors got a real sniff of goal. Nolberto Solano slid the ball through for Luis Boa Morte and Carlton Cole to chase but goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, in for the injured Petr Cech, was able to smother. Two minutes later, Matthew Etherington went into the book after pulling back Juliano Belletti.

At the other end, Gabbidon and Upson were working overtime to deal with the lively Drogba but Chelsea were finding it tough to create the opportunities to test Robert Green. The first real chance for West Ham United came just after the half-hour mark when Solano was given some space in the penalty area but his lofted attempt just cleared the goal.

The Peruvian international then shot wide in the 35th minute as Curbishley's men began to string several passes together for the first time in the contest. However, the half was to finish in scrappy fashion with home bookings for Salomon Kalou and John Obi Mikel. Boa Morte was the last to be cautioned in the half, with the former Fulham man penalised for a foul on Mikel.

It was Chelsea who began the second half in determined fashion but Upson was on hand to throw himself at a Steve Sidwell shot within a minute of the restart. Carlton Cole went close in the 51st minute, running on to a Hayden Mullins pass but could not get his shot on target. Within a minute the ball had switched to the other end where Joe Cole flashed in a low shot that just went wide.

Belletti went into the book in the 56th minute for bringing down Etherington as the noise from the Hammers travelling fans continued unabated. They nearly had extra reason to sing when Solano just failed to connect with a ball into the box, allowing Cudicini to claim. It was beginning to be end to end stuff, with the tension rising as the temperature dropped.

As the hour mark came and went, Boa Morte was running at John Terry before firing in a shot that was deflected into Cudicini's hands. At the other end, Green twice had to get the ball away after Joe Cole's chipped ball into the box. Carlton Cole then did brilliantly to dispossess Alex with the ball eventually finding its way to Parker who could not get enough power into his shot.

Sidwell made way for Shaun Wright-Phillips in the 66th minute before Lampard was cautioned soon after a foul on Boa Morte. Terry had a chance in the 73rd minute as Ljungberg entered the fray for Solano. Chelsea were in front two minutes later when, after a lofted clearance from Cudicini was knocked on, Joe Cole lashed in from the right of goal.

West Ham United kept going with Dean Ashton and Jonathan Spector on to try and help salvage a point, with Matthew Etherington and Scott Parker making way. Ashton had a free-kick chance in the 86th minute, with Terry booked for dissent, but fired over. With Claude Makelele on for Joe Cole to shore things up, that was to be as good as it got for Curbishley's men, who will feel hard done by after a determined display had promised so much.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Belletti, Alex, Terry, Bridge, Sidwell (Wright-Phillips 66), Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Drogba, Joe Cole (Makelele 89).
Subs not used: Hilario, Shevchenko, Ben-Haim.

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney, Solano (Ljungberg 74), Parker (Spector 79), Mullins, Etherington (Ashton 79), Boa Morte, Cole.
Subs not used: Wright, Collins.