The young Portuguese tactician claims his first win as Blues boss, but will be far from impressed with a sluggish display which saw his side outplayed for long periods.Goals from Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda gave Andre Villas-Boas his first win as Chelsea manager, but only after the Blues had been given quite a scare by a stubborn West Bromwich Albion side in the 2-1 decision on Saturday.
Andre Villas-Boas made two changes to the Chelsea side held at Stoke last weekend, with Hilario replacing the injured Petr Cech in goal and Nicolas Anelka preferred to Florent Malouda in attack.
The visiting fans may have travelled to west London fearing a repeat of last season’s 6-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge, but it immediately became apparent that this would be a completely different game, and the Baggies were in front inside of five minutes.
Shane Long picked the pocket of Alex just over the halfway line after a lazy pass by Ramires, and shook off the defender’s desperate attempts to recover as he raced through on goal, and coolly slotted home past a helpless Hilario to give his side the lead with just four minutes on the clock.
Chelsea continued to look sluggish, and it was West Brom who looked likeliest to score next, with the classy Chris Brunt at the center of much of its attacking threat.
Brunt looped a sublime ball over the head of John Terry as both Long and Tchoyi broke a woeful Chelsea offside trap, but the former Reading striker’s attempted cross was too firm and denied his teammate what would have been a simple tap-in.
The Baggies were made to pay for that missed chance after halftime.
On 53 minutes, Chelsea found itself level. Having again being denied a penalty when Lampard fell under pressure from Jonas Olsson, the ball broke to Anelka, whose low shot deflected off the Swede’s leg and rippled the net just inside the near post.
West Brom almost restored its lead immediately, with James Morrison’s hanging cross finding Scharner unchallenged at the back post, only for the Austrian to head over with the goal gaping.
But, by and large, Chelsea were in the ascendancy in the second half, and only a good reflex stop from Foster and a heroic last-ditch block from Steven Reid denied first Anelka and then Malouda from putting the Blues ahead.
With seven minutes remaining, Chelsea at last broke its opponents’ resistance. Bosingwa jinked between two Baggies defenders and his low cross found Malouda at the back post, who duly fired home.
Chelsea never looked entirely convincing at the back and the Stamford Bridge faithful were subjected to a couple of nervy moments towards the end, but the home side ultimately held on for a hard-fought win.