Hammers sunk by old boy Lampard

Posted by Peter Thorne

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesThe faces among West Ham supporters tell the story as John Terry, left, joins Chelsea teammates in congratulating Frank Lampard after his 200th career goal for the Blues.

It's in the nature of things at Upton Park that a club that produces so many class players and sees them move on to wealthier clubs is very likely to come unstuck to the regular hoodoo that determines that returning 'favourites' will always come back to haunt you.

Frank Lampard's opening goal in Chelsea's 2-0 win on Sunday that saw the West London side move up to third in the table, was his 200th for the Blues. As much as some West Ham fans might be loath to admit it, that is an impressive total for a midfield player who many East Londoners felt was overrated when he wore the claret and blue shirt.

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It's true that West Ham probably travelled more in hope rather than expectation to Stamford Bridge and, despite the Hammers' epic win over Chelsea in the beginning of December -- a match that will surely become a season highlight -- it was probably unlikely that a glorious double was on the cards.

Nevertheless, Frank Jr. has always had a fractious relationship with the claret and blue faithful, and the visiting supporters made no secret of that as their former protégé celebrated in front of them following his 19th-minute headed goal.

Even more unfortunate then, that another player used to severe abuse from Hammers fans, Blues captain John Terry, happened to be warming up in front of the West Ham fans at the time and was only too happy to join his teammate's celebration.

What should have been more concerning, though, was that Lampard was unmarked when he nodded in Eden Hazard's pass. It set the tone for a game in which West Ham were always second-best and the visitors could count themselves lucky the returning player hoodoo didn't strike more often as Demba Ba missed some glorious opportunities to punish his former employers.

It goes without saying that supporters of most other Premier League sides can only watch and bite their tongue as they hear Chelsea fans talk of turmoil and disaffection with their club. The fact remains that the Blues have class performers by the score -- and, on this showing, a Champions League place seems as assured as it surely should be with the players at their disposal, none more so than the excellent Belgian international Hazard who tormented West Ham throughout this game.

It was Hazard who score Chelsea's second goal after 50 minutes when he easily beat his markers before playing a one-two with Juan Mata, and then shooting low inside the near post. It was a goal of class and something to which West Ham, for all their efforts, had little reply.

As has been the way too often with West Ham this season, their best chances came when they bought on a substitute -- once again it was Carlton Cole coming on for Vaz Te very late -- with Cole forcing a low save from Petr Cech, but really it wasn't much to talk about. Andy Carroll disappointed with some headers off target, although he did net one only to have it disallowed for a push on David Luiz.

Sadly for some supporters, the top division in the English league does produce the type of games where the best that can be done is to shrug shoulders and smile ruefully, and this was such a match. West Ham have taken three more points from Chelsea this season than they would have expected and those alone could be vital. Both teams move on with differing expectations.

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