Chelsea 3 West Brom 0 - Report and pictures
The prospect of relegation is beginning to loom large for Albion after a clinical Chelsea performance left them cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier League.
Eden Hazard's brilliant double sandwiched Victor Moses's goal to give Antonio Conte's team a much-needed win after some recent troubles.
The Baggies, meanwhile, fell to their third defeat in a row after Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon missed glorious chances when the game was still in the balance.
It's 40 years since Albion last won at Stamford Bridge in the league, and after an encouraging opening 10 minutes this crop never looked like breaking that run.
Head coach Alan Pardew kept faith with Daniel Sturridge and Rondon up front, which meant top scorer Jay Rodriguez remained on the bench.
He didn't stay there for long though, because Sturridge lasted less than three minutes on his return to his old stomping ground.
The Liverpool loanee came with a reputation for picking up injuries, but his latest one came just as Albion were beginning to get over a spate of knocks.
Rodriguez was immediately in the thick of the action, and should have had a penalty just a minute later when Cesc Fabregas caught him high on the knee with a follow through after the substitute had squirted a shot wide.
However, Rodriguez was the only Albion player who appealed and referee Lee Mason said no.
Ten minutes in, the former Southampton man should have scored when Victor Moses misplaced his header back towards Thibaut Courtois.
It fell right to Rodriguez in acres of space, but instead of taking a touch when he was one-on-one with Courtois, he snatched at it first time and dragged the effort wide of the post.
The Baggies had started brightly, and even though they had lost Sturridge early, they were boosted by a returning trio of Jonny Evans, Kieran Gibbs, and Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Pardew opted for a 5-3-2 formation against Chelsea's wing-back system and it took a while for Chelsea to deal with the extra bodies in the midfield engine room.
But the Blues eventually woke up, and forced Ben Foster into a couple of smart saves in quick succession.
Firstly, he had to scramble quickly across his line to deny Davide Zappacosta at the far post. Even though the wingback was offside, no flag was raised.
And then 20 minutes in, he kicked away a shot from Olivier Giroud, who was making his first start in Chelsea blue since his £18m move from Arsenal in January.
Albion's back five had started to drop a tad too deep, fearful of Chelsea's pace.
And mid-way through the first half they were made to pay for it by a brilliant one-two on the edge of the box between Hazard and Giroud that the Belgian swept home clinically to give Chelsea the lead.
The Baggies responded, and sent a few foraging crosses into Chelsea's box, but it was the home side who started to gain the upper hand.
Albion were too slow in transition, and when they did win the ball, they turned back towards their own goal to keep possession too often, allowing Chelsea to refind their shape.
When they worked themselves into shooting positions, they fired wide.
Man of the match Hazard, meanwhile, was having fun, popping up in all areas of the pitch to skip in and out of the Albion players.
It was a high-tempo game at times, and the tackles were flying in. Giroud was the man most in the wars.
Not only was his head bandaged up after Ahmed Hegazi accidentally clipped him with his boot, he was then left in a heap just before half-time by Jonny Evans's crunching tackle through the back of him.
Pardew knew something had to change, and he made an attacking substituion at half-time, sending Oliver Burke on for the disappointing Chris Brunt in order to match Conte's 3-4-3 system.
The 20-year-old has pace to burn, and quickly got in behind Chelsea's backline before pulling a dangerous low ball across goal which was hacked clear with Rondon lurking.
The Venezuelan then saw a gilt-edged chance saved just before the hour mark.
He did well to outmuscle Andreas Christensen and while Chelsea appealed for a foul, he went through on goal but Courtois was able to divert his effort into the side netting with his legs.
Evans put a header just over from the resulting corner, a timely reminder that the defenders aren't always going to bail out their misfiring strikers.
A few minutes later, Moses compounded the misery by showing Rondon and Rodriguez how to do it up the other end.
It was another one-two, and even though Fabregas's flick bounced kindly to the wingback, unlike Albion's strikers, Moses made no mistake and swept the ball home to double Chelsea's lead.
Hazard grabbed his second with 20 minutes to go, with a goal that looked far too easy to score.
Cutting inside off the right, he burst past Evans and fired a shot inside Foster's gaping near post.
Both teams simply went through the motions after that, with Albion on damage limitations and Chelsea searching for a fourth that never came.
Things are starting to get urgent for the Baggies now.
They are now two wins adrift of everyone else, having won just three times in the league all season, and are a full seven points from safety with just 11 games left.
Pardew has one win from his 13 league games and there after a positive January there are mounting doubts over his ability to keep this team up. It's looking bleak.
03 Sturridge is forced off with injury early on and is replaced by Rodriguez
04 Rodriguez is clipped by Fabregas follow-through but Lee Mason waves away the appeals.
10 Rodriguez misses a golden opportunity when he hits Moses's backwards header first time.
25 GOAL CHELSEA - Hazard sweeps home a brilliant one-two between him and Giroud.
63 GOAL CHELSEA - Moses pounces on Fabregas's deflected flick.
71 GOAL CHELSEA - Hazard adds his second by bursting in off the right and firing inside Foster's gaping near post.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eden Hazard - Two goals from the unplayable Chelsea star.
POSITION IN THE TABLE
20th, with 20 pts from 27 games.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen (Cahill 74), Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro (Willian 80), Giroud (Morata 60), Hazard. Unused subs: Caballero, Cahill, Ampadu, Emerson, Drinkwater.
Albion (5-3-2): Foster; Phillips, Dawson, Hegazi, Evans (c), Gibbs; Krychowiak, Barry (Yacob 80), Brunt (Burke 45); Sturridge (Rodriguez 3), Rondon. Unused subs: Myhill, Nyom, McAuley, McClean.
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)