Chelsea maintained their five-point gap at the summit of the Premier League, with a slender 1-0 victory over West Ham.

Eden Hazard, 24, who pulled all the strings on the night, scored the only goal in the 22nd minute, as he continued his counter-attack into the area to be found with a right-wing cross from Ramires, 27. He scored a rare headed goal, his tenth league goal this season.

With only one defeat in eleven games, Chelsea were in red-hot form and were quickly on the front foot.


Diego Costa, 26, could have doubled Chelsea's lead, when he was set through by Fabregas, but he took his time to shoot and Carl Jenkinson, 23, made a terrific last-gasp tackle to deny him.

West Ham troubled their opponents and pressed forward in what was to be a nervy second-half. But they also squandered a hosts of chances, the main culprit being Diafra Sakho, who had enough chances to score two hat-tricks on the night.


No doubt that the East Londoners will surely be anxious to see the return of their target man Andy Carroll - who would have thrived on the quality of deliveries into the box.

Ramires nearly scored after the break for the visitors, when his shot hit the post, after being sent through on a counter-attack with Eden Hazard. Hazard then crossed from the left, before wrong-footing the Hammers defence, and found Ramires with a back-post shot, but the Brazilian's header was saved by the feet of Adrian.

The Blues celebrated wildly at the final whistle, as they managed to claw a vital victory and three points, maintaining their five-point cushion on their nearest rivals Manchester City, who have played a game more. Mourinho can now focus on next week's Champions League last-16 second leg home match with Paris St Germain, knowing that his side are in an excellent position for a league title.

By contrast, West Ham are suffering a slump in form, and have only won once in their last 11 league games; they have dropped in the Premier League from fourth at Christmas time to tenth, and their European hopes are quickly evaporating. 

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