London: Tammy Abraham hit a quickfire late double on Monday as Chelsea beat West Ham 3-0 to reignite their Premier League challenge after a consecutive defeats.
The Hammers proved tricky opponents at an empty Stamford Bridge but lacked the firepower to hurt Frank Lampard’s men, who led early through Thiago Silva’s bullet header.
Chelsea enjoyed a strong start to the season before losses to Everton and Wolves checked their progress but the victory at the London Stadium lifts them into fifth spot.
Champions Liverpool have opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table but behind them, just seven points separate second-placed Leicester from 11th-placed Wolves.
“It was nice to see that at the end because we had a period at 1-0 where it was tough, we dealt with that well,” Lampard told the BBC.
“We dropped off slightly and it was important tonight we came back,” he added. “There were loads of things for the team to show their character — we want more.
“Christmas has been changed for everybody this year. For the lads we just have to prepare for Arsenal, it’s a busy time of year for us.”
West Ham had the ball in the net in the seventh minute after a cleverly worked free kick but Declan Rice was denied by the off-side flag after an impressive finish from a tight angle.
Three minutes later Chelsea were in front when Silva powered home a header from Mason Mount’s corner.
The Brazilian found the net from close range after a well-timed run, leaving West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski rooted to the spot.
Chelsea enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after their goal without creating much of note but West Ham worked their way into the game as the half wore on.
– Werner goal drought –
Timo Werner, who has not scored for Chelsea since early November, had a golden chance to double their lead in the closing minutes of the first period but got the ball caught under his feet and Fabianski saved comfortably.
David Moyes’s team made life uncomfortable for the home side after the break but did not make the most of their regular forays forward despite the introduction of forward Said Benrahma.
They were made to pay when Abraham, back in the starting XI, doubled Chelsea’s lead with 12 minutes to go, settling their nerves and ending his own drought.
Werner cut inside and saw his scuffed shot tapped in by the England international, who was played onside by Aaron Cresswell.
Two minutes later Chelsea were 3-0 up when Abraham fired home from a tight angle after Fabianski had done well to keep out Christian Pulisic’s header.
That made it the eighth time Chelsea have scored at least three goals in a Premier League match this season — and they nearly had a fourth when Werner struck the crossbar with two minutes left.
The win lifts Chelsea to 25 points — one behind fourth-placed Everton — while West Ham stay in 10th place.
Earlier, Burnley beat Wolves 2-1 to climb out of the Premier League’s relegation zone, thanks to goals from Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood.