Chelsea secured a precious 1-0 win to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
The Blues, who had only exhausted themselves in the Capital One Cup victory three days ago, could have suffered from fatigue, but Eden Hazard’s early headed goal ensured the game did not need chasing and the visitors patiently saw out the three points.
It leaves West Ham with just one win in 11 matches now, but as for Chelsea, it means they have scored in 14 straight games, and the Capital One Cup-winning side surely look certain to secure the Premier League crown too, especially with a game still in hand.
It was a game which Chelsea really did not have to get out of second gear, though West Ham should be commended for their considerable efforts.
It was a bruising game from the off, with the match lasting a full 100 minutes including stoppage time. And in that time, Chelsea should have scored a couple more.
West Ham started the match quickly but Chelsea were brutal on the break. Hazard fed the ball to the right-wing, made his run into the penalty box and headed home past Adrian in the 22nd minute.
And how his boss would thank him, as it gave Chelsea the cushion they could sit on for the remainder of the match, and there is no better side to hold out a lead than Chelsea.
Still, Chelsea did have their scares when Sakho broke through on a couple of occasions, but Courtois was on hand to deny the Senegalese.
Costa should have made it two when one-on-one with Adrian but dallied far too long on the ball and Jenkinson got back in time. It is now six games without a goal for the Spaniard, but there will be no qualms over his endeavour.
And so Chelsea sat. Ramires hit the post as Chelsea looked to secure that insurance goal. Cahill’s hand looked to have brushed the ball late on in the game but Marriner was unmoved, consistent with Chelsea’s penalty claims at the other end in a similar incident with Collins.
Willian was too guilty of missing a fantastic chance after Hazard was humblingly unselfish to pass the Brazilian the ball, but Willian could only hit the defender on the line.
But the three points were secured and Chelsea now have a full week to prepare for Paris Saint-Germain.
Man of the Match
EDEN HAZARD: Defensive displays have been strong by Chelsea these last few games for defenders to warrant my Man of the Match awards, but Hazard is no less an important figure. Showed his class again tonight with effective defending and attacking. Holds the ball up so well, with that fabulous turn of pace, be that in Minute 1 or Minute 90. He’s useful with both feet — and his head too! 8/10
Mourinho knew the significance today: “I want to sleep tomorrow until midday. Today easily you lose two points. The way [my players] play, nobody is better than them. It is not just to play football, the pressure, the tension and the emotion, my players were fantastic. We couldn’t kill the game and these three points are massive for us.”
Allardyce was clutching at straws: “I believe the performance was magnificent. Their goalkeeper’s performance made some fantastic saves. I think the goal is offside by a hair’s breadth. These decisions need to go for you not against you.”