Eden Hazard's brilliant brace lifted the gloom around Chelsea as Premier League basement boys West Brom were dispatched 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Heavy back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Watford led to evermore voluble questions surrounding the future of head coach Antonio Conte and placed the reigning champions' hopes of a top-four finish in jeopardy.
Captain Gary Cahill dropped to the bench but the error-strewn element of recent outings was again in evidence and Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez both could have put Albion ahead before Hazard did so for Chelsea.
There was further defensive generosity to enrage Conte until Victor Moses doubled the Blues' advantage after the hour and a sublime 15th of the campaign from Hazard made the points safe.
Chelsea climb back up to fourth, a point above Tottenham, ahead of their next Premier League assignment at Manchester United at the end of the month.
7 - Eden Hazard has scored more Premier League goals versus West Brom than he has against any other team in the competition (7). Thorn. pic.twitter.com/XB1bKzPek6— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 12, 2018
Daniel Sturridge was making his second start for West Brom but the on-loan Liverpool striker's injury jinx struck again, a hamstring injury forcing him off in the fourth minute.
Replacement Rodriguez almost had an instant impact, thumping wide before Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas crashed into him. Referee Lee Mason was not interested in his penalty claims.
Salomon Rondon then headed off target from Matt Phillips' brilliant, fizzed cross and Rodriguez dragged wastefully wide after Moses' woeful backwards header left him through on goal.
Chelsea hauled themselves out of an abject slumber as Davide Zappacosta and full-debutant Olivier Giroud forced close-range saves from Ben Foster and they led in the 25th minute.
Hazard effortlessly shimmied around Gareth Barry and fed Giroud for precisely the type of centre-forward play Conte sought during the January transfer window.
The ex-Arsenal man spun Ahmed Hegazi and completed a one-touch lay-off for Hazard to thrash into the bottom corner.
Giroud required a large head bandage after taking an accidental boot to the head from Hegazi, nodded narrowly wide from Pedro's dinked cross and limped gingerly to the touchline after being clattered by Jonny Evans. He was probably glad to hear the half-time whistle.
Rondon should have equalised in the 57th minute when he outmuscled a dithering Andreas Christensen but failed to beat Thibaut Courtois. From the resulting corner an unmarked Evans headed over.
A battered and bruised Giroud took his applause from an appreciative Stamford Bridge crowd after the hour, with Alvaro Morata introduced up front, and, as in the first half, Chelsea gathered themselves to punish West Brom's wastefulness.
Fabregas looked for Morata with a dinked pass and it fell kindly for Moses to rifle beyond Foster.
Moses cut inside seeking a second, only to be denied by the West Brom goalkeeper's boot before Hazard showed him how it was done in the 71st minute – leaving Evans in his wake and unleashing an unerring left-footed finish.
It proved a harsh lesson in expert finishing for Albion, whose situation at the foot of the table and seven points from safety with 11 games to play is a desperate one.
Up next for Conte are the contrasting challenges of Hull City and Barcelona in the FA Cup and Champions League, and a season that can still be salvaged
|Koepka claims top ranking with CJ Cup win|
|Dramatic Dovizioso crash gifts Marquez MotoGP title in Japan|
|LeBron´s home debut ends in defeat, Walker makes NBA history|
|Rondo, Ingram and Paul exchange punches in Lakers-Rockets clash|
|Dodgers to face Red Sox in World Series after beating Brewers|
|Valverde doesn´t care about extending Barca contract|
|Qualifying speed a ´positive surprise´ for Ferrari´s Vettel|
|I was in a different headspace – Hamilton revels in Austin pole|
|Barcelona can cope without Messi – Pique|
|Allegri: Juventus abandoned Genoa clash|
|Sale: Hospital visit was because of belly button ring|
|Valverde accepts Barcelona will miss Messi|
|No Messi or Ronaldo in El Clasico for first time since 2007|
|Barcelona have not won a Clasico without Messi since his debut|
|Ramos calls for Real Madrid unity after latest loss piles pressure on Lopetegui|
|Hamilton has title in sights after storming to Austin pole|
|Inter, El Clasico and more - the games Messi will miss with broken arm|
|End of Messi-Ronaldo duel good for LaLiga - Simeone|
|Messi out of Clasico with fractured arm|
|Awesome Ashton marks Sale bow with hat-trick|
|Klopp hopes for positive Henderson prognosis amid Liverpool injury issues|
|Benitez ´convinced´ Newcastle can survive despite seventh defeat|
|Barcelona 4 Sevilla 2: Messi injured but champions go top|
|Kovac relieved by Bayern´s timely victory|
|Strasbourg 2 Monaco 1: Sy howler and Grandsir red card cost Henry in first match|
|Leicester City defender Chilwell signs new six-year contract|
|PSG´s Tuchel hopes Verratti and Di Maria can face Napoli|
|Liverpool star Salah had no fear during scoring drought|
|Alonso´s 2019 plans not damaged by McLaren´s IndyCar decision|
|Edinburgh outclass troubled Toulon, Wasps and Bath play out thrilling draw|
|Barca concern as Messi substituted with worrying arm injury|
|Howe: South coast derby draw a fair result|
|Our heads were in Manchester – Allegri left fuming at Juventus´ loss of focus|
|Derby County 2 Sheffield United 1: Marriott blunts Blades with 77th-minute winner|
|We have so many problems – Jokanovic alarmed by Fulham defensive woes|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Liverpool 1: Salah snaps winless streak|
|Pellegrini ruing injuries after Yarmolenko hurts ankle|
|Villarreal 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Simeone´s side denied LaLiga top spot|
|Gracia: Not easy to dominate Wolves like that|
|Isner´s Finals hopes hindered by Stockholm defeat|
|Dyche incredulous at refereeing decisions in Man City thrashing|
|Juventus 1 Genoa 1: Champions´ winning run ends despite record Ronaldo goal|
|´Fantastic´ Lamela urged to find consistency by Pochettino|
|You don´t want to lose any players - Young speaks out on Wade NFL speculation|
|Championship Review: Smith gets off to a winning start, Leeds beaten|
|Guardiola hails extraordinary Fernandinho after Burnley drubbing|
|Pochettino lauds Lloris as one of world´s best after West Ham heroics|
|Paris Saint-Germain 5 Amiens 0: Ten wins in a row for PSG as Neymar rests|
|Cristiano Ronaldo nets record 400th league goal|
|Marcelo backing beleaguered Lopetegui despite Madrid slump|
|Garcia dazzles to hit the front at shortened Valderrama Masters|
|Cardiff City 4 Fulham 2: Paterson gets Bluebirds off the mark|
|Newcastle United 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 1: Benitez´s men bottom after dismal defeat|
|West Ham 0 Tottenham 1: In-form Lamela settles London derby|
|Manchester City 5 Burnley 0: De Bruyne returns in comfortable win|
|Wolves 0 Watford 2: Capoue and Pereyra turn form book on its head|
|Bournemouth 0 Southampton 0: Howe´s side stifled by Saints|
|Prove you´re crazy about Inter - Spalletti rallies players ahead of Milan derby|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 3: Lewandowski leads Kovac out of trouble|
|Goerges betters Bencic to clinch Luxembourg title|
|Morgan wants more from ´rusty´ England despite series win|
|Sarri says sorry after touchline bust-up overshadows Chelsea´s late escape|
|Chelsea draw an ´awful´ result for excellent United, says Mourinho|
|The Chelsea assistant that angered Mourinho - Who is Marco Ianni?|
|Steve Kerr supports Colin Kaepernick: ´I think he deserves a chance to play´|
|Lopetegui ´more motivated than ever´ amid Real Madrid sack reports|
|That´s football – Rudiger shrugs off late Ianni-Mourinho fracas|
|AC Milan´s improved mentality could be difference against Inter - Gattuso|
|Emotional Kasatkina comes back from the brink to win Kremlin Cup|
|Forget it, it´s over - Mourinho accepts apology over touchline row|