Belfast Telegraph

Blues march on

Chelsea remained top of the Barclays Premier League and piled the pressure on under-fire West Ham boss Avram Grant with a comfortable 3-1 win over the rock-bottom Hammers at Upton Park.

Michael Essien put Chelsea ahead in the second minute when he headed home a corner from Didier Drogba and a double blunder by Robert Green and Matthew Upson saw Salomon Kalou make it two in the 17th minute.

Essien headed his second in the 83rd minute but moments later Scott Parker lobbed Petr Cech to make it 3-1. West Ham substitute Frederic Piquionne then wasted a great chance by heading against the crossbar from two yards.

The Blues' domination of the game began as early as the second minute when debutant Ramires won a corner on the left flank and Essien rose above two defenders to head home Drogba's cross.

The visitors went 2-0 up in the 17th minute when West Ham's England goalkeeper Green spilled a 30-yard Drogba free-kick.

Defender Upson tried to clear the loose ball but it cannoned back off Kalou and over the head of Green.

Kalou went close to grabbing his second in the 21st minute but his shot was deflected around the post, much to the relief of the grounded Green. West Ham almost succeeded in finding a way back into the game in first-half stoppage time but Carlton Cole's effort was ruled offside.

Chelsea nearly made it three on the hour when Kalou collected a fine pass from Drogba only to send his curling shot inches wide of Green's right-hand post.

Chelsea made it 3-0 in the 83rd minute when Essien headed home Paulo Ferreira's cross but a few moments later they conceded their first goal of the season when Parker calmly lobbed Cech from 20 yards.

West Ham substitute Frederic Piquionne wasted a great chance to reduce the arrears still further when he headed against the bar from just two yards.

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