On a rainy night at Stamford Bridge, West Ham were the visitors in the Carling Cup 3rd Round. Jose Mourinho made eight changes from the team that beat Blackburn 4-0 on Saturday. In came Carlo Cudicini for Petr Cech. Jose gave Carlo the captain’s armband for the evening as William Gallas replaced John Terry and Geremi replaced Frank Lampard. Other changes to the team included Celestine Babayaro replacing Wayne Bridge, Paulo Ferreira replacing former Hammer Glen Johnson, Tiago replacing Smertin, Arjen Robben playing his first full game for Chelsea replaced Damien Duff and Mateja Kezman came in for our Saturday hat-trick hero, Eidur Gudjohnsen.
This was the Hammers first visit to Chelsea since they got relegated two seasons ago. Their last visit in the Premiership resulted in them winning 2-3 with goals from Jermaine Defoe and two from Paolo Di Canio, the last being a screamer past Carlo Cudicini near the end of the second half. Di Canio then indulged in celebrating in front of the family section of the Shed end. Joe Cole was in the Hammers team that day and was the only former Hammer, or, from our feeder club, in the Chelsea line-up tonight.
Chelsea began the game with all the possession during the first 25 minutes, the first real chance of the game came around the 7th minute mark when Arjen Robben cut inside and found his old PSV team mate Mateja Kezman, he hit a stinging shot at the Hammers goal but Jim Walker saved the shot. Joe Cole was getting into the game well and looked like he was enjoying himself against his old team. During that period of play Joe had a shot that deflected off of Rufus Brevett and went away for a corner. A few minutes later it seemed as though Chelsea were set to go 1-0 up. Cole put Kezman through for a one on one with the Hammers keeper. However, Kezman knocked it past the keeper but too far and Anton Ferdinand eventually cleared the ball. It was by far and away the best chance during the first 15 minutes.
Three minutes later a free kick taken by Scott Parker found Arjen Robben who crossed to find Geremi, however from about 20 yards out Geremi blasted the ball over the bar. West Ham then got back into the game after the 25th minute mark, a long shot by Lomas didn’t trouble Cudicini in the Chelsea goal but the Hammers were starting to gain in confidence. In the 39th minute West Ham got their first corner of the game, a mistake however ended up gifting Chelsea a throw in. A few minutes later a Scott Parker mistake let in Matthew Etherington, at the second attempt Carlo Cudicini smothered the ball to deny West Ham taking the lead. The Hammers were starting to put more pressure on The Blues with the away fans starting to get behind their team.
Just before half time a Geremi cross-met Mateja Kezman perfectly for a clear-headed chance on goal, however, the chance went begging as the header went wide. It looked odds on that Kezman would at last break his duck, but there was no such luck for the Serb at the end of the half. The first half ended goalless due to some poor finishing by the home team and some great saves by Walker.
The second half started much like the first half with Chelsea dominating. As early as the 47th minute a ball by Joe Cole found Kezman after a Ferdinand mistake, Kezman blasted the ball goalwards but again Jim Walker made a spectacular save to keep the score 0-0. Three minutes later the Hammers keeper again saved a fizzing shot 25 yards out by Joe Cole.
In the 57th minute Chelsea got the first and only goal of the night and who should score? After a few chances during the evening it was Mateja Kezman with the first goal of his Chelsea career. A through ball by Joe Cole found Kezman who’s low shot to the left of Walker went in off the post. 1-0 Chelsea and Kezman’s first goal in 13 appearances was very much deserved.
In the 65th minute Joe Cole who had been having a great game was substituted and on came Damien Duff. Cole looked disappointed at having to come off but was given a great reception by both sets of fans. The Hammers fans hadn’t given him too much of a rough ride but he’d shown how well he could play and had had a few chances himself during the evening to score past his old team. A few minutes later Super Frankie Lampard, another former Hammer came on to replace Scott Parker. In the 76th minute West Ham had their second corner of the night taken by Etherington, the ball was cleared and Chelsea broke upfield, which resulted in Arjen Robben being bought down in the West Ham area. The ref pointed to the spot and the penalty was given to Chelsea in front of the Hammers fans in the Matthew Harding stand.
After a slight interruption because the West Ham fans were throwing objects onto the field (One of which hit Mateja Kezman) Frank Lampard stepped up to take the penalty. With Frank wanting to score against his old club he blasted the penalty down the middle of the goal, however Jim Walker managed to save with his legs much to the delight of the visiting fans and the annoyance of the home support.
With minutes to go Frank Lampard took a free kick, in trying to avenge the penalty save he blasted the ball goalwards but it hit the underside of the bar. An unlucky evening for Frank, but we all know how good he is and he showed the Hammers fans how much he has improved since moving from East to West London. Chelsea had a very late scare, in the 89th minute a cross by Etherington found Anton Ferdinand who crashed a header off of the crossbar, the ball came out and ended up with a Chelsea goal kick. This was West Ham’s best chance of the night and could have resulted in sending the game into extra time.
Four minutes of injury time were added at the end of the second half, this after a lengthy stoppage before the penalty kick was taken. West Ham had the very last chance with Steve Lomas tripping over himself and putting the ball wide, not really a chance, more of a Frank Spencer moment. If it hadn’t been for goalkeeper Walker in the Hammers goal, Chelsea could and really should have buried our East London rivals.
1-0 or 8-0 it didn’t matter, we progressed to the next round where we’ve been given a tricky tie up at Newcastle. If we are to progress in the competition and we’re to win our first piece of silverware since 2000 then this could be the game where it will matter.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferreira, Gallas, Carvalho, Babayaro, Tiago, Parker (Lampard 67), Geremi, Cole (Duff 63), Kezman, Robben
West Ham: Walker, Mullins, Ferdinand, Repka, Brevett, Etherington, Lomas, Nowland, Reo-Coker, Harewood, Zamora.