West Brom 1 Chelsea 1 match report: Victor Anichebe punishes Chelsea's dearth of firepower after Branislav Ivanovic opener

A game Jose Mourinho's team should have won easily ended with two points squandered by the Premier League leaders

the Hawthorns

Chasing down the leaders is one thing but, as Jose Mourinho found out once again tonight, trying to leave the rest behind at the top of the Premier League, in this intriguing unpredictable season, is quite another.

They have conquered Manchester City and made a virtue of being the team that has come good late on, but tonight they looked bereft of the killer instinct that served them so well in recent weeks. The old problems came back to haunt Mourinho: the absence of a striker capable of putting opposition away, a critical defensive lapse as they tried to see out victory.

It was not the sleek, bespoke performances that Mourinho’s team turned out to beat City. Instead he was forced to throw on the inexperienced Mohamed Salah at the end to chase the lead having previously adjusted his team to close the game down. Chelsea’s goal came from Branislav Ivanovic and it looked like it might be enough to win the match until substitute Victor Anichebe struck within the last four minutes of normal time.

It is a different Mourinho these days, to the one that considered each and every defeat as evidence that the universe was out of kilter and forces were conspiring against him. Afterwards he blamed his team’s “lack of personality” in allowing themselves to be dominated by an otherwise fairly nascent West Brom team in the closing stages of the match.

“A ‘ready’ team [ie, an experienced team], a complete team kills this game,” Mourinho said. “Two-nil. Goodbye. We didn’t.” He is playing that tune again, the one that says Chelsea are not yet at a stage where they can win the title, and this he claimed was vindication for that theory. He was right in saying that his side fell away badly, but why that was the case was not obvious.

Chelsea are still top but a win for Arsenal against Manchester United tomorrow will restore them to that position and Manchester City can also overhaul them if they beat Sunderland.  Having dominated the first half, Chelsea struggled to put West Brom away and found themselves on the back foot. They needed a telling moment from Eden Hazard or Oscar or Samuel Eto’o but none was forthcoming. Instead there was a strange row between Ivanovic and Petr Cech and then, eventually, the equaliser from Anichebe.

He had been sent on by Pepe Mel to try to give some life to a West Brom attack that looked like it might be flat-lining by the beginning of the second half. His team had done their defensive work well and then they conceded in injury-time at the end of the first half with sloppy marking from a corner.

It does not change the fact that Mel is still yet to win any of his five games in charge of West Brom since taking over, but this comeback was a great improvement on what might have been after a moribund first half. He declared himself “proud” of his players after the game and they are off for a break in Spain which their new manager described as his “pre-season.”

In a drab and unremarkable first half in which Chelsea failed to spark, only Willian, of Mourinho’s attacking four, really delivered and his contribution was more about the running and energy than creativeness.

It was a dreadful goal that West Brom conceded from Willian’s corner on the right. David Luiz angled his run to the front post and flicked the ball on to no-one in particular with his left foot. Breaking from a position around the penalty spot, Ivanovic was completely unmarked – Gareth McAuley’s fault - when he struck the ball on the half-volley past Ben Foster from close range.

 

Until then it had been Chelsea who had the better of it. But not by much. Hazard was well-marshalled on the left wing, although doing so earned Morgan Amalfitano a booking late in the first half. Really, Mourinho’s team were reduced to a few long range shots, the best from Willian, and one clever turn by Eto’o that left Craig Dawson on his backside. Claudio Yacob got in the way of the cut-back.

Yacob and James Morrison shielded the West Brom defence from the usual Chelsea pressure and by and large they did a good job of it. Albion’s problem was creating anything of note at the other end. Only once in the first half did they really get clear, when Amalfitano deceived Cesar Apilicueta down the right and crossed for Saido Berahino to head the ball down. Thievy Bifouma’s instinct to take his first touch away from goal felt wrong and Chris Brunt’s shot was wide.

Even without John Terry in the side, it required something of quality to breakdown the Gary Cahill and Luiz partnership and, in the first half, the home side did not get close to that.  It took well into the second half for West Brom to get their first shot on target. They lost Yacob to injury and in the early stages of the second half there was no clear idea of how they might get back in it.

It was Thievy who had the first decent chance with around 15 minutes left as West Brom finally managed to apply some pressure. The ball dropped to him in the area in the right channel from a Brunt corner that was flicked on but the striker, on loan from Espanyol, snatched at the ball and dragged it across goal. Brunt did little better minutes later with a chance from the other side.

All they had in their favour was that Chelsea seemed incapable of putting the game away. Hazard dallied on a break down the left side of the West Brom box and failed to anticipate Ramires’ run into the six yard box. With 12 minutes remaining, Mourinho withdrew Oscar and replaced him with John Obi Mikel, making clear his intentions to shut the game down.

Before then he had given Fernando Torres his first run out, as a substitute for Eto’o, since the Spanish striker’s knee ligament injury against Manchester United on 19 January. Mel refreshed his attack with Anichebe and Matej Vydra. West Brom looked at their most dangerous from set-pieces and the more the pressure grew, the more of those they won.

In the build-up to the equaliser, Cahill was injured and had only just hobbled back onto the pitch when Berahino picked up the ball on the left side and angled a ball into the near side of the box. Having dealt with the pressure time and again in the second half, on this occasion Cech came for the ball and hesitated. Luiz allowed Anichebe to get in front of him and the striker angled a fine header past the Cech.

Having originally intended to bring on Frank Lampard and go further into shutdown mode, Mourinho changed his mind and called upon Salah to try to turn the game which had finally opened up. There was a late corner for Chelsea that should never have been given when replays showed that Ben Foster had managed to keep the ball in play. But not for the first time, Chelsea found themselves unable to craft an attempt on goal.

West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Dawson, Ridgewell; Yacob (Mulumbu 63), Morrison; Amalfitano (Anichebe 73), Thievy (Vydra 77), Brunt; Berahino.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Ramires (Salah 88), Matic; Willian, Oscar (Mikel 78), Hazard; Eto'o (Torres 69).

Match rating 6/10.

Man of the match Willian.

Referee A Taylor.

Attendance 24,327.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice