Chelsea vs West Ham match report: John Terry and Diego Costa fire brilliant Blues to derby win

Chelsea 2 West Ham 0

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The Independent Football

Going into Christmas in fourth place, only a point behind Manchester United, and pretty pleased with themselves, West Ham must have felt like visitors to the rich neighbours, suddenly realising their presents are not quite so classy after all.

An Andy Carroll and a Stewart Downing, however nicely wrapped, are not a Diego Costa or an Eden Hazard.

The latter pair were among a crop of outstanding performers in blue as Chelsea consolidated their position at the top of the table, compared with whom the east Londoners could offer only their goalkeeper Adrian.

Surely one of the most improved keepers in the country, he followed three tremendous saves against Leicester last Saturday with four more here. Chelsea, of course, have rather more to offer than the Premier League’s bottom club and not even the former Betis man could prevent John Terry’s tap-in in the first half or Costa’s individual flourish in the second.

Far from the 19th-century football of which Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, had accused West Ham following the goalless draw here last January, their approach was all too 21st century: faced with another game 48 hours after this one, they left their two most effective players this season shivering in the dugout for an hour. Alex Song and Diafra Sakho duly appeared at that point, whereupon Chelsea immediately scored their second goal, reducing Sam Allardyce’s plan to rubble.

He refused to blame defeat on team selection, pointing out the qualities of their replacements, Mark Noble and Enner Valencia, but admitting that had there been seven days until the next game the line-up would have been different.

“I have no complaints about the result,” Allardyce said. “Chelsea are a top-quality side and we found it difficult to  compete with them. I’m  angry with the first half, the way we approached the game. I expected us not to play  that way. I had to set out the tactics against a side of the quality of Chelsea. When it doesn’t happen, you get  frustrated.”

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Chelsea captain John Terry scored for the second consecutive game

There was an improvement in the second half, which was only to be expected, but even then the only time Chelsea were threatened with conceding a fourth home goal of the season was just before the finish when the third substitute, Morgan Amalfitano, hit a post from close in.

Mourinho hinted that he would make changes of his own with three matches over the next eight days, but knows he has far better resources than West Ham and just about everyone else. Full of the Christmas spirit, he even gave in to the “crying in the dressing room” about two proposed training sessions today and moved one of them, a gentle warm-down no doubt, to last night.

“It was not perfection, but we played very well against a very difficult team,” he said. Or two different teams to be precise, once Allardyce had shouted at them at half-time: “The first one against a defensive side; in the second half, against an attacking team who made changes, put on faster players and were more direct with balls into the space. We coped well with that, too.”

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Diego Costa scored with an excellent left-footed finish

As to the longer term and the quest for four trophies: “The only thing we can do is to try and reduce – just to try – the unpredictability of football by doing what we’re doing: playing really well.”

The chances flowed from early on, even when the football was less fluent, Oscar missing badly and Gary Cahill forcing Adrian’s first fine save. Ideally, the first goal should have come from a lovely piece of intricate play just after the half-hour, which James Collins interrupted by conceding a corner. Cesc Fabregas took it, Costa headed on and Terry bundled in his 61st goal for the club.

Allardyce’s mood was not improved by Branislav Ivanovic’s dying swan act in search of a penalty just before the interval, and after his strong words West Ham showed a little more imagination. But Adrian still had to save from Hazard, Oscar and Nemanja Matic, and in between times Matic robbed Cheikhou Kayoute, allowing Hazard to feed Costa, who wriggled on to his left foot, sending Carl Jenkinson and Collins the wrong way before a lovely finish low into the corner of the net.

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Carroll, lacking support with Sakho missing and Downing moved out wide, was withdrawn and it was too late to matter when Amalfitano fooled two defenders but hit the inside of a post with Thibaut Courtois for once beaten.

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Willian (Ramires, 85), Oscar (Mikel, 81), Hazard, Costa (Drogba, 81).

West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell, Nolan, Noble (Song, 59), Kouyate, Downing (Amalfitano, 74), Valencia, Carroll (Sakho, 59).

Booked:

West Ham Collins, Cresswell, Reid.

Man of the match Matic.

Match rating 6/10.

Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance 41,589.

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