Antonio Conte’s 50th Premier League game in charge was celebrated in style, with our joint-best win in the competition this season.
Outstanding displays from our front two of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, who contributed three of the goals, were backed up by plenty of other strong contributions in a dominant display which yielded a fourth league win in a row and a third consecutive league clean sheet.
There was plenty to admire about both Morata’s opener and Hazard’s first of the game, and Marcos Alonso from a set-piece established a 3-0 lead by half-time. Hazard netted his second and the fourth goal overall just past the hour to send the team to Azerbaijan in good spirits, and above Tottenham in the Premier League table after their defeat in the north London derby earlier in the day.
For our match in the Midlands, Conte unsurprisingly named a side unchanged from the one which had beaten Manchester United impressively two weekends ago, and they justified his decision.
West Brom had a brief flurry early in the game but once Chelsea had seen that off and taken the lead, this was a win that was never in doubt and the home fans, whose side had only won two of their previous 20 Premier League games, were audibly disgruntled long before half-time.
The Baggies had the first attack of real penetration, Jake Livermore at its heart, and the first effort on-target when Jay Rodriguez’s header was saved by Thibaut Courtois. Although our keeper could not do similar moments later from Salomon Rondon, the offside flag went up as the ball crossed the line.
Rondon was found inside our area again on nine minute but the closely marking Cesar Azpilicueta was able to snuff out the danger on that occasion, and it was time for the Blues to properly take control.
Andreas Christensen initiated an attack but when Davide Zappacosta’s cross came over, neither Morata nor Tiemoue Bakayoko could make it pay, and nor could the French midfielder soon after when he did everything right in taking a Cesc Fabregas pass and spinning to face the target, but he hooked the ball wide.
So we reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark goalless but the wait for the opener lasted only two minutes more as with his first chance of the game, Morata scored his ninth goal of the season. It was an expert finish too, the ball hooked in low first-time by the Spaniard’s left foot after Ben Foster’s dive and save had kept out Hazard’s stinging shot from distance. A long passing move had preceded that goal.
It was Hazard soon after who was surprisingly the first of five players booked for a barge on Grzegorz Krychowiak but he was soon making a positive contribution again with a sublime second goal. Fabregas played a pass through the middle which was helped on its way by a touch of first-class vision and technique by Morata. Hazard took the ball wide of Foster and then found the net; his turn to score with his left foot.
Foster escaped gifting the Blues another goal with a careless piece of control inside his penalty area. His follow-up stretch reached the ball just before Morata but another goal did come before the break and again our centre-forward was involved.
This time he won a free-kick on the left edge of the penalty area with powerful play. Fabregas delivered to the far post and Alonso kicked it into the roof of the net from an acute angle. Simple as that. 3-0. Thirty-seven minutes played.
Into the second half, Hazard’s brilliant run as Chelsea counter-attacked from on our own box nearly increased the Baggies’ misery but Foster saved well and when Fabregas latched onto the loose ball and was challenged, he was cautioned for simulation, as was the home team’s Rondon down the other end soon after.
Great play from Morata then forced another save from the West Brom keeper. The Spaniard was exposing the defence time and time again, as was Hazard with his bravery in attacking the opposition through the middle. Fabregas, almost needless to say, was the man who picked out our no.10 for his second goal of the game and having manoeuvred away from Ahmed Hegazi, Hazard patiently waited for the right moment before smashing the ball into the net.
Morata scooped another chance over after Kante had split the defence. On this second game since injury, the French dynamo again caught the eye.
The clean sheet was almost spoiled when James McClean was allowed a clear run on goal inside the final 10 minutes but the substitute wastefully shot wide, so our best-ever winning margin at the Hawthorns was assured.