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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 November 2006, 16:54 GMT
Chelsea 1-0 West Ham
By Sam Lyon

Geremi celebrates
Geremi celebrates his sublime opener
Geremi's first goal in a year proved the difference at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea kept up the pressure on leaders Manchester United with a narrow win.

An uninspired encounter was lit up by the right-back, who curled a sublime free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards midway through the first half.

Nigel Reo-Coker and Matthew Etherington went close for West Ham, who enjoyed plenty of possession away from home.

But they failed to find a goal, while Michael Essien struck the post late on.

The win was the hosts' 51st successive match without defeat in the league at home and was the perfect way for Jose Mourinho's side to warm up for Wednesday's Champions League tie at Werder Bremen.

A circumspect opening to the match, notable only for two half-chances wasted by Lee Bowyer, came to life through Geremi's strike.

The Cameroonian, fast making the right-back spot his own, left Robert Green helpless with his curler, and Arjen Robben should have made it two when he sliced wide from eight yards out.

However, the visitors, with potential new owner Eggert Magnusson watching from the stands, refused to go down without a fight.

Icelandic business tycoon Eggert Magnusson
Potential new West Ham supremo Eggert Magnusson watches on at Stamford Bridge

They commanded long periods of possession and twice at the end of the first half they could have levelled, first when Reo-Coker's angled drive was blocked by Ashley Cole and then when Etherington volleyed narrowly wide from 25 yards.

The second half mirrored the first, with West Ham enjoying plenty of the ball, but Mourinho's outfit still looking the most likely to score.

Didier Drogba and Robben both saw decent efforts blocked before Essien struck the outside of the post with a low drive from 25 yards.

The longer the game went on, the more West Ham's belief grew that they could snatch something but, with Carlos Tevez often frustrated on his return to the side, their failure to create was starkly evident.

Bobby Zamora worked tirelessly and Bowyer was also full of bluster, but the closest the visitors came to a leveller was when Anton Ferdinand failed to find the target when well-placed in the box late on.

In fact it was John Terry who came nearest to the second goal of the afternoon, the Chelsea skipper contriving to head into the ground and over from Robben's corner.

Drogba had the ball in the net late on after slotting home from Joe Cole's slipped pass, but it was rightfully ruled out for offside.

  • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho:
    "It was a satisfactory performance because we beat a good team. I see the quality of their players and manager and I don't think they deserve to be in the position they are.

    "We had enough chances to kill the game. But we didn't and in the last five minutes or so they threw a lot of bodies up.

    "However the reality is we were in control and deserved the win.

    "As for Geremi, he scores those goals all the time in training. He is playing well, setting up chances and I like him."

  • West Ham boss Alan Pardew:
    "We set out to try to hurt Chelsea but unfortunately they don't just have world-class flair players, they also have world-class defensive players.

    "There was no luck about their win but we pushed them all the way and are starting to show that we can match even the best sides.

    "If it weren't for Cole's block on Reo-Coker in the first half, which was as good as the goal in my eyes, we might have got something. We need to follow this up now against Sheffield United next week."

    Chelsea: Cudicini, Geremi, Carvalho (Boulahrouz 46), Terry, Ashley Cole, Essien, Makelele, Lampard, Robben (Mikel 83), Drogba, Shevchenko (Joe Cole 68).
    Subs Not Used: Hilario, Wright-Phillips.

    Booked: Lampard.

    Goals: Geremi 22.

    West Ham: Green, Spector, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Tevez, Bowyer (Sheringham 81), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington (McCartney 81), Zamora (Harewood 71).
    Subs Not Used: Kiraly, Dailly.

    Booked: Gabbidon, Reo-Coker, Mullins, Tevez.

    Att: 41,916

    Ref: M Dean (Wirral).

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