Chelsea Retain Unofficial World Club Championship With Win Over Hammers
Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) saw another defence today as champions Chelsea took on former champions West Ham at Upton Park.
Chelsea knew that they needed a win to keep any remaining hopes of a title challenge alive, although their hopes of a third league crown in five years had taken a blow on Wednesday after their draw with Everton, so much so that Guus Hiddink had even conceded the fact title may be beyond Chelsea's reach.
West Ham, on the other hand, were bouyed by the news that Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clark had signed new contracts, and were on a run of just one loss in their last seven games.
They couldn't celebrate their new contracts with a victory, nor a point today, however, as Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners.
Hiddink started without Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, and Michael Ballack, perhaps with one eye on the midweek clash with Barcelona. Their absence didn't seem to put Chelsea off, however, as they dominated the first half.
Frank Lampard tried in vain to open the scoring on a number of occasions, but it was as provider that he contributed to Chelsea's best chance of the half, sliding the ball through to Florent Malouda who shot just wide.
West Ham had their moments in the first half as well, with Kieron Dyer, making his first start in almost two years, shooting straight at Petr Cech, and Diego Tristan having his effort cleared off the line by John Obi Mikel.
Ten minutes after the interval, however, Chelsea got a deserved lead. Lampard clipped the ball over Robert Green and in to Salomon Kalou, who controlled it before poking it past the defenders and into the unguarded net.
Chelsea continued pressing on and looking for a second to kill off the game, and they must have thought they had got it when Nicolas Anelka was sent through with only Robert Green to beat. The Hammers 'keeper spread himself well, however, and Anelka was left wondering just how he hadn't added to his tally.
They came close again just a few minutes later when Ashley Cole found himself inside the box. His powerful effort beat Green, but clipped off the top of the crossbar.
Despite their dominance throughout the match, Chelsea were left sweating with 20 minutes to go as Kalou pulled down Herita Ilunga inside the box.
Referee Mike Dean didn't hesitate to point at the spot, but Cech pulled of a spectacular save from Mark Noble's penalty.
Chelsea managed to hold on to their 1-0 lead, which, for a couple of hours at least, put them within three points of Manchester United.
Mark Noble's penalty was his fourth in a UWCC title match, and the second one he has missed, more than any other player.
West Ham's loss means that Manchester United are now the only team not to have lost a UWCC title match as challengers.
Surprisingly, just 46.2 percent of voters in the poll said that West Ham wouldn't beat Chelsea and reclaim the UWCC title, so well done to the minority!
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea (Chelsea become new champions)
West Ham 0-1 Chelsea
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Chelsea's next title defence comes on Tuesday as they travel to the Nou Camp to take on Barcelona in the Champions League. Can Barcelona finally take the UWCC off English shores and become the best side in the world?!
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