Chelsea 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda's second half strikes help beat The Baggies
Chelsea’s French contingent of Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda helped The Blues salvage their opening win of the season over West Bromwich Albion in Andre Villas-Boas’s first home game in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Shane Long had made it two goals in as many games since his switch from Reading with a fourth minute opener, as Alex was caught in possession by the lively Republic of Ireland forward.
But The Blues rallied in the second half, and Anelka struck the leveller eight minutes after half time, before Malouda struck home after Jose Bosingwa’s teasing delivery.
Villas-Boas was beginning the unenviable task of matching Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home record in the Barclays Premier League, but his side began in the worst possible fashion.
Long, who opened his West Brom account with a goal against Manchester United last weekend, robbed Alex of possession before slotting the ball beyond Hilario, who was standing in for the injured Petr Cech.
The 24-year-old almost helped Albion double their advantage, but over hit his pass to strike partner Somen Tchoyi.
The home side appeared to be suffering from nerves, but soon leveled proceedings after the break, when Anelka’s goal bound shot deflected off Jonas Olsson and beyond a helpless Ben Foster.
The former Old Trafford stopper was able to deny Anelka a minute later, and Steven Reid had to be alert to block Florent Malouda’s follow up volley as the hosts cranked up the pressure.
And with seven minutes remaining, the pressure told, as Malouda struck the winner his cameo since replacing Salomon Kalou deserved, as he converted Bosingwa’s right wing cross.
Substitute Peter Odemwingie almost celebrated his new three-year contract with a late equalizer, but his volley was comfortably saved by Hilario, as Villas-Boas opened his account at the Bridge with a win, leaving West Brom without a point from their opening two games.