Drogba treble gets Chelsea in the groove - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Drogba treble gets Chelsea in the groove

Chelsea 6 West Bromwich Albion 0: Ivory Coast striker gives champions a flying start as Albion fluff their lines on return to the top flight

It was as if the World Cup had never happened as Chelsea's star names came to the fore, having flopped for their countries on the biggest stage. Didier Drogba was a marginal figure for Ivory Coast, but here he was playing again with conviction and passion, scoring a hat-trick that provided remarkable symmetry with the end of last season, when he scored three goals in Chelsea's 8-0 demolition of Wigan that clinched the Premier League title on the final day.

Frank Lampard was also on the scoresheet for Chelsea with his 158th goal for the club, as if his ineffective displays for England in South Africa were just a bad dream.

John Terry was back to his assured best, although it must be said he barely had to break into a sweat to keep West Bromwich Albion at bay. And Florent Malouda's double helped him banish memories of France's farcical World Cup campaign. Nicolas Anelka, John Obi Mikel, Ashley Cole – across the pitch there were Chelsea players who had all experienced World Cups to forget.

Yet put them in a Chelsea shirt and they are different animals. As the fifth goal flew in, the Chelsea fans inside Stamford Bridge sang, "Top of the League, we're having a laugh", as the champions moved above Blackpool whose unlikely leadership of the division had lasted only a couple of hours.

The players are reportedly unhappy that Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, has altered their bonus payments this season, scrapping the incentives for individual games but retaining payouts for every trophy they win. The chairman, Bruce Buck, appeared to confirm the change, saying: "It's a confidential matter but the new rules from Uefa require a club to balance its books. Every club has to adjust."

There was no sign on the pitch, however, that austerity is breeding discontent, as Chelsea took to the return of the Premier League with a relish that was far too much for the recently promoted West Bromwich.

The Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, played down the scoreline, saying: "They did their job, nothing special. This team can play and score a lot of goals, this is our job."

The performance went some way to answer questions that had been raised during pre-season. Chelsea have lost five senior players since winning the Double in May – Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Juliano Belletti – and a dismal run of four defeats in a row in pre-season, including last weekend's 3-1 loss to Manchester United at Wembley, had created a subdued atmosphere in the build-up to their title defence.

Any suggestions, though, that Ancelotti's side were off the pace were dispelled within six minutes. Malouda was fouled by Pablo Ibanez just outside the penalty area. Drogba's 29 League goals last season clearly earned him the right to have the first pop at goal and although his effort was fairly tame it was too much for West Bromwich's goalkeeper, Scott Carson, who fumbled the wet ball allowing Mikel to poke it to the waiting Malouda, who fired through the legs of Graham Dorrans.

A brief flurry from West Bromwich created a couple of chances. Dorrans' low, skidding shot caught a deflection off Terry and Petr Cech, who returned to the Chelsea line-up after a month out with a calf injury, saved down low. Roman Bednar thought he had beaten the offside trap and fired into Cech's goal, only for the effort to be rightly ruled out for offside.

Chelsea reasserted their authority just before half-time, when Drogba's free-kick found a gaping hole in the wall. Terry set up Chelsea's third, with a purposeful header from a Malouda corner that Youssouf Mulumbu cleared off the line, only for Drogba to pounce with typical tenacity.

There was a sense of the inevitable about Chelsea's fourth as Anelka passed to Cole who squared for Lampard to finish. The England midfielder was immediately withdrawn but the punishment did not cease for Albion, with Drogba completing another hat-trick with a shot that took a huge deflection off Gabriel Tamas. Malouda added his second, and Chelsea's sixth, in the final minute, pouncing on Anelka's through-ball to score off the inside of the post.

This was no way to welcome back the West Bromwich manager, Roberto Di Matteo, a Chelsea legend thanks to two FA Cup final-winning goals. Di Matteo, who was cheered by home fans, said: "It was great to see that they had not forgotten me, but I would have preferred to have got something for my team."

Attendance: 41,589

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Drogba

Match rating: 8/10

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week