LONDON // Didier Drogba made an immediate impact on his return to the Chelsea starting line-up as he scored his first league goal of the season after just three minutes to boost his side's title hopes. The Ivory Coast forward, left on the bench for the last six matches despite recovering from a knee injury, finally persuaded manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to accommodate an extra striker and he wasted no time in making his point.
Drogba, playing alongside top scorer Nicolas Anelka for the first time this season, headed home a Joe Cole cross early on to set the tone for a crucial victory at Stamford Bridge against basement side West Brom. Frank Lampard made it two on the stroke of half-time, lifting the ball past the goalkeeper Scott Carson after Joe Cole's pass and Ashley Cole's run caused havoc in the West Brom defence, and the performance, although uninspiring at times, could prove a major one in Chelsea's season as they won for the first time in four games.
Drogba could so easily have added to Chelsea's tally, not least when he was denied by Carson in the 65th minute, and his all-round performance before being substituted suggested he is now back. The striker, who has scotched rumours that he may move to Inter Milan in the transfer window, could now prove very valuable to Chelsea if he can forge a partnership with Anelka. The fact that Scolari waited so long to find a way to include him alongside the Frenchman is astonishing. But having finally seen the light and adjusted his tactics you suspect Chelsea's title challenge is now well and truly back on track.