Brilliant West Ham hit back to crush Chelsea
West Ham United 3 Chelsea 1
The Hammers put in a fabulous second-half performance to come from behind and beat European champions Chelsea at Upton Park.
West Ham United mounted a sensational second-half fight-back to send Rafa Benitez’s Blues back to Stamford Bridge empty-handed.
A first goal of the season from former Chelsea striker Carlton Cole plus late strikes from substitutes Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga wiped out Juan Mata’s first-half opener to give Sam Allardyce’s side a valuable victory.
A plucky single-goal defeat against Manchester United on Wednesday evening had left the Hammers in 10th-place and following his side’s reverse at Old Trafford, Allardyce made a trio of changes as Cole, Mark Noble and Gary O’Neil came in for the injured Andy Carroll (knee) plus substitutes Matt Taylor and Diame.
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United had netted inside 33 seconds in midweek and three days later, Hammers again found themselves behind to an early goal, when Mata put Chelsea ahead after just 12 minutes.
After matching the Blues pass-for-pass and tackle-for-tackle in the opening exchanges, West Ham suddenly found themselves trailing to a goal stamped ‘Made in Espana’ when a goal-line cut-back from Fernando Torres was slammed home from 12 yards by his supporting Spanish team-mate.
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Having already departed the Champions League, third-placed Chelsea, who followed up last weekend’s goalless draw against Manchester City with another all-blanker against Fulham in midweek, had also failed to win in any of their previous six Premier League matches.
In a bid to get the Blues’ season back on track, Benitez had made four changes with Mata, Moses, Gary Cahill and John Obi Mikel each returning in place of the suspended David Luiz and substitutes Oriol Romeu, Ryan Bertrand and Oscar.
Mata’s eighth goal of the campaign certainly boosted the Blues and, shortly afterwards, Moses had a great chance to double the lead but he sliced his ten-yarder away for a throw-in!
Then as the half-hour mark approached, a Blues’ break ended with Torres harmlessly hooking wide from the edge of the area, before Eden Hazard went closer with an angled effort that just cleared the far angle.
On 33 minutes – and hugely against the run of play - West Ham finally got the ball into the net with a Kevin Nolan overhead kick, however, all claret and blue joy was quickly extinguished when referee Martin Atkinson ruled the effort out for an earlier push by James Collins.
In truth, that was the only glimmer of any Hammers hope and five minutes before the break Mata almost bagged his second but Jussi Jaaskelainen brilliantly beat out his point-blank effort before Joey O’Brien bravely charged down the Spaniard’s follow-up.
A minute before the break, Petr Cech was booked for punching clear on the wrong side of his 18-yard line and, when Collins saw his consequent free-kick deflect off the Blues wall, Nolan’s goalbound header was acrobatically palmed away by Cech to preserve Chelsea’s advantage at the break.
Big Sam made two game-changing switches for the restart, replacing James Tomkins and O’Neil with Taylor and Diame and after former Blues’ goal-getter Cole headed over, Cahill then blocked a stinging goal-bound sizzler from the Senegalese substitute.
The arrival of the determined Diame had certainly made a difference and with the Hammers forcing a string of corners during their best spell of a hitherto lack-lustre afternoon, Branislav Ivanovic hacked clear just as Nolan prepared to pounce.
At last, West Ham looked positive in attack and, on 63 minutes, they pulled themselves all-square, when Jarvis’ left-wing cross looped off Cahill towards the near post, where the grappling Cole got the better of Ivanovic to nod home from a couple of yards.
With Mikel booked for protesting that Cole had tried to swap shirts with the Serbian stopper, Jarvis stormed forward and forced Cech into a low save at the base of his right-hand post.
At the other end, Jaaskelainen’s left-hand upright was left wobbling by Mata’s clever, curling free-kick just a minute or so after the Hammers ‘keeper had produced a defiant double-save to thwart Torres.
All of the Finn’s good work could have been undone though, when he over-excitedly threw the ball straight to Hazard, who returned a 35-yarder over the top of an unguarded goal before being replaced by Oscar.
Marko Marin then came on for Moses, but it was West Ham who continued to press as the breaking Jarvis saw his low 15-yard shot smartly turned aside by Cech for the Hammers 12th corner of the game and from the subsequent kick, Winston Reid saw his far post header nodded off the line by Cole.
That looked like being the last chance but that man Diame had other ideas and with just four minutes remaining, O’Brien collected a throw-in back from Nolan and picked out Cole on the by-line and the striker patiently laid the ball back into the path of the screaming Senegalese substitute, who gave Cech absolutely no chance with his net-busting 10-yarder.
That sent the ecstatic East Enders amongst the crowd of 35,005 wild but still their side were not finished and when Ashley Cole recklessly passed to Maiga, he played in the supporting Taylor, whose shot was pushed out by Cech, only for the newly-arrived substitute to appear on the scene and lash home the rebound to claim his fourth goal of the season and three fantastic points for Big Sam’s side.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, Reid, Collins, Tomkins (Diame h/t), Noble, Nolan, Jarvis, O’Neil (Taylor h/t), Cole (Maiga 87): Unsed subs: Spiegel, Spence, Moncur, Fanimo.
BLUES: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cole, Ivanovic, Cahill, Mikel, Ramires, Mozes (Marin 78), Hazard (Oscar 73), Mata, Torres. Unused subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Bertand, Romeu, Piazon.
Booked: Cech (44), Mikel (63), Noble (65),
Referee: Martin Atkinson