Torres end drought as Chelsea keep in touch
London: Fernando Torres scored his first Chelsea goal in his 14th appearance for the club as Carlo Ancelotti`s side secured a 3-0 victory over West Ham to remain six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.
Frank Lampard had given the reigning champions a 44th minute lead and, after Torres broke his duck, Florent Malouda completed the win with a stoppage time strike at Stamford Bridge.
It was Torres`s goal that triggered the loudest cheers as the Spaniard finally found the net for the first time after 733 minutes of action following his British record £50 million transfer from Liverpool in January.
The striker had again been left on the bench but his impact when he appeared as a 76th minute substitute ensured West Ham`s chances of clawing their way back into the game disappeared and with it their hopes of lifting themselves off the foot of the table.
The games played earlier in the day had been kind to neither team with United`s victory over Everton denting Chelsea`s hopes of stepping up their title challenge and Wolves` home draw with Fulham sending West Ham bottom.
The Hammers were also forced to come into this game without their two senior players after injuries ruled out Matthew Upson and Scott Parker.
Attention immediately before kick-off focused on the pre-match handshake with Chelsea captain John Terry and West Ham full back Wayne Bridge due to confront each other for only the second time since last February`s allegations about the nature of the relationship between Terry and Bridge`s former partner.
Once again the two players avoided contact and the sideshow over, Chelsea reacted immediately by creating the first opening of the game in the second minute.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti kept faith with the three-man strike force of Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba and Malouda that has started both games since the Champions League exit to United.
And Kalou and Malouda combined to carve open the West Ham defence before Malouda was denied by an excellent save from Hammers keeper Robert Green.
Chelsea continued to dominate the opening period but were unable to create a second clear opportunity.
And when Hammers striker Demba Ba forced Petr Cech into a 24th minute save, the momentum began to swing the way of West Ham.
Cech was called upon to make a second, more impressive save from Jonathan Spector`s close range diving header two minutes later before Ashley Cole cleared off the line from Freddie Sears.
West Ham, though, looked vulnerable every time Chelsea advanced and the deadlock was finally broken when the home side conjured the best move of the half immediately before the break.
Drogba`s perfectly weighted ball allowed Cole to speed to the byline where the full back pulled back for Lampard to crash the ball home from 12 yards.
With standing water on the playing surface following a torrential downpour, the chance of mistakes increased after the break and both sides had several opportunities to score.
Kalou missed an easy opening in the 51st minute and West Ham had a great chance to level when Robbie Keane scooped a shot over from 12 yards.
But substitute Torres made the game safe when he collected Nicoals Anelka`s through ball and sent a left foot shot beyond Green in the 84th minute before Malouda wrapped things up with a superb long-range drive.