Featured Matches
Previous
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
1
0
ESPN3 LIVE HT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
2
1
FT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
FT
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
1
0
FT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
3
0
FT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
2
1
FT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
0
0
FT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Forest Green Rovers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
1
0
ESPN3 LIVE HT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
1
0
FT
Game Details
Heidenheimer SB
TSV 1860 Munich
2
2
FT
Game Details
RB Leipzig
FC Erzgebirge Aue
1
0
FT
Game Details
St Pauli
SV Sandhausen
2
1
FT
Game Details
AC Ajaccio
Tours
1
0
FT
Game Details
Angers
Chateauroux
1
1
FT
Game Details
Arles
Sochaux
2
2
FT
Game Details
AS Nancy Lorraine
Nimes
0
0
FT
Game Details
Clermont Foot
Ajaccio GFCO
3
4
FT
Game Details
Créteil
Niort
1
1
FT
Game Details
Orléans
Brest
1
0
FT
Game Details
Troyes
Stade Laval
0
0
FT
Game Details
Valenciennes
Le Havre AC
0
4
FT
Game Details
SC Heracles Almelo
Cambuur Leeuwarden
0
1
FT
Game Details
Almere City
Jong FC Twente
0
1
FT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
RKC Waalwijk
2
3
FT
Game Details
FC Emmen VV
Jong PSV
5
0
FT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
FC Oss
2
1
FT
Game Details
Jong Ajax
FC Volendam
0
5
FT
Game Details
MVV Maastricht
Sparta Rotterdam
0
2
FT
Game Details
NEC Nijmegen
Fortuna Sittard
5
1
FT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
FC Eindhoven
2
1
FT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Achilles '29
2
0
FT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
De Graafschap
1
0
FT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
3
0
FT
Game Details
Terek Grozny
FC Arsenal Tula
3
0
FT
Game Details
Racing Genk
KAA Gent
3
2
FT
Game Details
Mjallby
Helsingborg
1
2
FT
Game Details
Sandnes Ulf
Viking FK
2
2
FT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Santos
Toluca
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Aberystwyth
0
5
FT
Game Details
Prestatyn Town
Connah's Quay
3
2
FT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Bangor City
2
0
FT
Game Details
Arsenal de Sarandí
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
0
0
LIVE 8'
Game Details
Tigre
Racing Club
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
Coras Tepic
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mineros de Zacatecas
Oaxaca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Dorados de Sinaloa
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
AA Ponte Preta
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Oeste
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Santiago Wanderers
Audax Italiano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Defensor Sporting
Rentistas
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Universidad De Costa Rica
Pumas Generalena
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Honduras Progreso
Platense
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 4 hours ago
Read
Mar 17, 2013

Blues cruise as sense of fun returns

About halfway through the second half of Chelsea's easy win over West Ham, Eden Hazard flicked the ball around three players and nutmegged Joey O'Brien. It was executed with all the effortlessness and casualness of a kick-about, and that reflected the match.

One of the most remarkable things about what was actually a thoroughly impressive performance was that it all seemed so routine - a sense of the routine, after all, has been missing at Chelsea this season.

Consider the kind of things that have consumed them over the past few months. If it's not off-pitch controversy, like the ongoing farrago over Rafa Benitez's appointment or individual player contracts, it's on-pitch complications like inconsistent results or Fernando Torres's latest goal drought.

• Lythell: Hazard caps perfect week for Chelsea
• Thorne: Hammers sunk by old boy Lampard

A different Spaniard missed against West Ham but, after Juan Mata had seen his effort fail, he turned to the fans behind him and grinned widely. That sense of enjoyment has also been absent from Stamford Bridge of late, but was evident against the Hammers.

Other than a bit of edge between the two opposing groups of fans and West Ham supporters' abuse for John Terry and - predictably - Frank Lampard, there was a hugely positive atmosphere.

After the game, Benitez was asked about his comments at Middlesbrough, and whether this better atmosphere was what he had meant and wanted. "If the team is playing well, the fans will enjoy it and that is the main target for us, to try to stick together," was his guarded response.

Chelsea were certainly cohesive against West Ham, Juan Mata and Hazard most of all as they consistently linked up in exquisite fashion. There was a certain inevitably about the glorious interchange between the two that brought the second goal.

Sam Allarydce reflected on that, saying: "It was a tough afternoon with the talent of Mata and Hazard, particularly. They were both outstanding today. As much as I'd like to say we should have defended better, sometimes you just have to admire the talent."

That talent brought the sumptuous second goal that made the game safe. In truth it had ceased to be a contest long before then. West Ham had begun well and taken the game to Chelsea, but Frank Lampard's 18th-minute strike seemed to have an effect beyond that of just putting his side ahead. It instantly sapped all the vigour from Allardyce's team while energising Benitez's.

Andy Caroll did have the ball in Petr Cech's net four minutes later, but the disallowed goal was the only incident to interrupt almost ceaseless Chelsea attacking, and Demba Ba could have had a hat-trick by half-time but squandered three one-on-ones.

Had it been another kind of day, more might have been made of the slight worry of Chelsea's other centre-forward showing some of the symptoms of the malaise that has plagued Torres' time at the club.

It wasn't, however, a day for worrying - at least, not for Chelsea. Instead, there was a sense of celebration because of Lampard's goal: a 200th for the Blues, and against his first club.

"I'm really happy for Frank Lampard," Benitez said. "It is a great achievement for any player, but especially a midfielder."

Missiles appeared to be thrown at the Lampard as he celebrated in front of the away fans, but his manager claimed he didn't notice, saying: "He was thinking about scoring another goal."

Allardyce was thinking about how his team had allowed the goal to happen, saying: "He's the ghost in the box that no-one seems to see. Massive credit to him for 200 goals in his career. I'm just said it's come against us.

"What interests me is how Frank sneaked into the box to score. That's all I see. Outside of that, I don't see much, so I can't comment on that [the apparent throwing of missiles]."

Benitez, meanwhile, wouldn't really comment on why Terry had been asked to move to the other end of the pitch in order to warm up. One rather pointed set of press-ups in front of the away fans, and the body part thereby directed at them, seemed to especially enrage them.

In general, though, Chelsea's players were embarrassing the opposition, something shown by some of the things they were willing to try. On 37 minutes, Mata curled a delicious long-range effort just wide of the post before David Luiz attempted a Tony Yeboah-style volley. In short, you could sense how much they were enjoying themselves.

"I think the team was doing well from the beginning, and today we could keep the momentum, attacking football, creating chances," Benitez explained. "It's a pity because we could not score more goals, but I am really pleased with the performance and the clean sheet."

He will be even more pleased by the Premier League table. With Spurs beginning to stumble, Chelsea have reclaimed third spot. And if they can maintain this kind of mood, they should stay there for the season.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.