As the chants of a Are you watching Manchester?a echoed through the Hawthorns stadium, Spaniard Pedro Rodriguez, fresh off the boat from his home country, proved to be the difference between the two sides as Chelsea moved past the hosts 3-2 in a tight, edge-of-the-seat encounter.
The match really was as close as the scoreline suggests with West Brom not giving up until the very last kick. Thibaut Courtois, after being called into action in the 94th minute, pulled off a smart save from Jose Rondona s shot. More definitive passing and perhaps more clinical finishing would have seen the home side at least draw level, if not get all three points.
Events surrounding Chelsea FC have seemed like a soap opera in recent times with some unnecessary drama off the pitch, and this latest episode was no less sensational. The game saw a penalty saved, 4 goals in the first half, a red card and ultimately three hard earned points to take back home.
Baggies winger James Morrison had a fantastic game and could have had his first of three goals but for Courtoisa knee. However, it was his teammate on the other wing that stole the show tonight. Callum McManaman may not be a household name but he gave the likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta a run for their money.
Admittedly, that is not the toughest thing to do these days, given Chelseaa s frailties in that area of the pitch. They showed no signs of stability even as a pull-back from captain John Terry on Rondon resulted in him being shown the red card, 10 minutes into the second half.
A half that Chelsea started ahead by 3-1, thanks to their Spanish connection, saw new boy Pedro opening the scores, followed by a delicious assist to Diego Costa. The latter in turn provided the required touch for a shot that Cesar Azpilicueta scuffed into the back of the net as half time approached.
This is for the first time in 3 weeks that a rather comfortable talk at halftime between the team and Mourinho was made possible.
However, there are more things to worry about for the Portuguese as his defence was yet again exposed to the pace and guile of Rondon and the skillful wingers that the home side had at their disposal. They ran the defence down and perhaps proved why the Blues are desperate for John Stonesa signature.
An open first half was followed by an entertaining second, as both sides continued to attack. A delightful cross from the left wing, which Morisson had to flick with his head, brought the difference to just one goal at the 60-minute mark.
From then on, it was more about protecting the lead rather than attempting to score again, for the visitors. To that effect, John Obi Mikel came in for Pedro as Chelsea saw out the stubborn home side to register their first win of the season.
The optimistic Chelsea fan will see that their attack finally managed to put a performance together as Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Costa seem to be getting into their element. Undoubtedly his best game so far in the season, Fabregas was looking like his old self as he ran the show at midfield, sitting just in front of Nemanja Matic.
A somewhat surprised, but nevertheless happy, Chelsea fans saw Pedro put on a show of what was to come. Along with Fabregas and Costa, the Spanish trio provided glimpses of their class in the game, although they are both yet to hit top gear.
For the home side, it promises to be another tough season. Their performance today, however, proved that if they could gather the points at home against teams around them, they could manage to stay in the League.
Chelsea had the better possession, more shots on goal and more chances were created by them. By the numbers alone, they deserved to win. However, the telling difference between the two sides was the percentage of accurate passes. The home side were a lot more wayward in their passing while their visitors were surer in theirs resulting in more chances for them and more shots being created.
As the final whistle rang, Mourinho let out a cry of joy signifying relief more than anything else. Relief, that although it was another shoddy defensive display, things didn’t take a turn for the worse. For many Chelsea faithfuls, their season begins now. With a home fixture to Crystal Palace on the cards, followed by a trip to Goodison Park, the champions will be looking to build momentum as they earnestly begin the defence of their title.