Drogba goals put Chelsea on top

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Drogba goals put Chelsea on top


Chelsea’s Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring a goal against West Ham during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London on March 13. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

LONDON - Didier Drogba scored twice to lift Chelsea to a 4-1 victory over West Ham United on Saturday and back to the top of the Premier League while Arsenal shadowed the team with a last-gasp victory at Hull City.

A fortnight after a shock 4-2 defeat by Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea rediscovered its form and with Florent Malouda enjoying one of his best games for the club, ended up handsome winners.

Drogba’s double and one for Malouda killed off relegation-threatened West Ham, who were level at halftime after former Chelsea man Scott Parker canceled out Alex’s header. Chelsea have 64 points from 29 games and lead Arsenal on goal difference after the Gunners stole a 2-1 victory at 10-man Hull through Nicklas Bendtner’s stoppage-time winner. Champions Manchester United, which hosted Fulham on Sunday, has 63 points.

Two goals by Roman Pavlyuchenko helped fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur boost its push for Champions League qualification with a 3-1 home defeat of Blackburn Rovers. Aston Villa, one of Tottenham’s rivals for the fourth spot, lost ground with a 0-0 draw at Stoke City. Fifth-placed Manchester City visits Sunderland on Sunday.

Burnley looks increasingly likely to make a quick return to the Championship (second division) after a morale-sapping 2-1 home defeat against fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers. Bolton Wanderers thrashed Wigan Athletic 4-0 and Birmingham City recovered a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Everton.

Chelsea needed a commanding performance as it looked forward to welcoming former manager Jose Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge tomorrow when it looks to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Inter Milan in the Champions League.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side produced just that to outclass a West Ham side, managed by former Chelsea favorite Gianfranco Zola, who hung on gamely after Parker rifled in a superb equalizer. Frenchman Malouda, in dazzling form down the left wing, provided the cross for Alex to score the opener and set up Drogba to head Chelsea back in front before his own cool finish made it 3-1.

Drogba bagged his second in the final minute but for Ancelotti it was Malouda’s spark which pleased him most. “He was the best player on the pitch today and scored a fantastic goal,” Ancelotti told Sky Sports.

“He set up the first two goals and he is in a very good moment and I want to use him on Tuesday.”

While the title race looks set to go to the wire, the scrap for fourth place is equally intriguing with Tottenham in pole position on 52 points, three more than Manchester City, which has two games in hand.

Jermain Defoe grabbed his 23rd goal of the season for Tottenham but Russian Pavlyuchenko is the man of the moment with eight goals in six appearances. “Pavlyuchenko is in a tremendous run of form and if he can keep doing that until the end of the season we can get where we want to get, he’s been great for us,” said manager Harry Redknapp.

Bolton’s Lee Chung-yong started at right wing and earned his eighth assist of the season on Fabrice Muamba’s goal in the 53rd minute of the match.

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