A West Bromwich Albion team that allowed nine goals in four games under Pepe Mel had held Chelsea without a decent chance through 45 minutes, extra time of today’s first half arriving at The Hawthorns with the two teams tied, 0-0. With the Blues having surged to the top of the Premier League, many would have expected more from the visitors, whose dominance of the ball (67 percent) couldn’t produce a shot on target during normal time.
Two minutes of extra time, however, gave the Blues an opportunity to claim a halftime lead. Moments before the halftime whistle, a corner from the right was flicked on toward Ben Foster’s far post. There, having lost his man, was Branislav Ivanovic, who pushed the opener home just in time for the teams to leave the field.
It was the only decent chance of the half. Though West Brom’s strike partnership of Saido Berahino and Thievy Bifouma looked threatening, they never saw enough of the ball to make Petr Cech sweat. At the other end, Chelsea seemed to play the whole half between 18 and 30 yards of goal, though almost every time they ventured forward, a stalwart Albion defense rebuffed them. By the middle of the period, Chelsea had started speculating with long shots.
A late corner converted, Chelsea can now settle into a more comfortable approach. Instead of pursuing goals, the Blues can wait to exploit holes in their opponents’ pursuit. Forty-five minutes away from increasing their lead at the top, Chelsea are putting in a typical Jose Mourinho performance.