The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
West Ham holds Chelsea to 0-0 draw with staunch defending at Stamford Bridge
LONDON - A resilient West Ham side held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday as Jose Mourinho's team lost ground to new leader Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
Under a pouring rain, West Ham defended for most of the second half and managed to contain Chelsea's assaults to secure an important point in its fight to remain in the top flight next season.
Demba Ba hit the post from close range in added time as Chelsea piled on the pressure but staunch defending from the Hammers prevailed.
Chelsea missed the chance to draw level with second-place Arsenal and now trails Manchester City by three points after Manuel Pellegrini's team won 5-1 at Tottenham. West Ham remained in the relegation zone, two points behind 17th-place Sunderland.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho accused West Ham of playing "football from the 19th century" and said he was frustrated by the result.
"It's very difficult to play a football match where only one team wants to play. It's very difficult," Mourinho said. "A football match is about two teams playing and this match was only one team playing and another team not playing."
But West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was delighted that his tactics worked out perfectly.
"He can't take it, can he? He can't take it because we've outwitted him. He just can't cope," Allardyce said about Mourinho. "I love to see Chelsea players moaning at the referee, trying to intimidate him, Jose jumping up and down saying we play crap football. It's brilliant when you get a result against him. Hard luck, Jose."
John Terry returned for Chelsea as Jose Mourinho made six changes following Sunday's win over Stoke in the FA Cup. West Ham looked comfortable early on and could have been awarded a penalty in the sixth minute when striker Andy Carroll went down after a challenge from Cesar Azpilicueta, but referee Neil Swarbrick played on.
West Ham keeper Adrian then made a superb save to deny Oscar's curled shot that was heading for the top corner, but that was the only real dangerous occasion for the Blues in the first half hour.
West Ham forwards Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame caused many problems in the Chelsea half while Sam Allardyce's team restricted the hosts to long-range shots.
But after missing a shot in the 26th minute, Diame crashed into the advertising hoardings as he apparently injured his ankle and was replaced by Matt Jarvis.
West Ham defence again held firm in the 40th minute when Eden Hazard tried to find his way through, with the Belgium star forced to hit the ball straight at Adrian. Chelsea went close in first-half added time but another excellent save from Adrian denied Samuel Eto'o' shot from Oscar's missed attempt.
Chelsea dominated after the interval but struggled to break through West Ham's defensive lines as Mourinho started to show signs of nervousness on the touchline.
Ramires had a good chance to break the deadlock but he sent his half-volley wide in the 61st minute. Mourinho then made a double substitution, bringing in Nemanja Matic and Frank Lampard for Azpilicueta and John Obi Mikel.
Oscar tried his luck in the 72nd only to see Matt Taylor blocking the ball before Lampard looked set to open the scoring, but again Taylor threw himself in the way.
Hazard missed two consecutive chances after Ba hit the post and Eto'o had a goal disallowed. The former Barcelona forward kicked the ball into the empty net after Adrian had placed it down for a free kick, apparently unaware that the referee had whistled for a foul.
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