Premier League: West Ham United 3 Chelsea 2
PUBLISHED: 22:52 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 22:52 01 July 2020
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Following two false starts, it was third time lucky for the hard-working Hammers as they picked up their first precious points since Project Restart began with this welcome and wonderful win over Frank Lampard’s high-flying Blues at London Stadium.
Triumphant at Stamford Bridge back in December, thanks to substitute Andriy Yarmolenko, they again followed up with a late, late victory over Chelsea on home turf to climb into 16th place in the table, three points clear of the dreaded drop zone.
After Tomàš Souček had seen an earlier scrambled effort ruled out for offside by VAR, Willian had given Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot, three minutes before the break.
But undeterred by that earlier disappointment, Souček then headed the Hammers level with his first-ever Premier League goal in first-half stoppage time, before Michail Antonio put David Moyes’ men in front just after the interval.
And although Boy from Brazil, Willian, then levelled with a samba-style free-kick on 72 minutes to net his 10th goal of the season, Yarmolenko had the final word with that last-gasp winner.
The Hammers had already lost their two opening Project Restart games by identical 2-0 scorelines to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur but the collective inability of their closest relegation rivals meant that Norwich City, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford had won just three points between them in their combined 13 matches.
That saw Moyes’ side kick off above the bottom three on mere goal difference alone and, following that defeat at Spurs eight days ago, the Scot made two changes as Angelo Ogbonna and Manuel Lanzini returned in place of the injured Mark Noble (tight hamstring) and Fabián Balbuena, who took his place on the bench alongside 20-year-old academy midfielder Alfie Lewis.
In record signing Sébastien Haller’s continued absence, the ever-willing Antonio was tasked, once again, with going it alone up front, where he constantly found himself hunted down by the unyielding figures of Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen.
But after Willian had forced a smart 10th-minute save out of Łukasz Fabianski, Antonio showed his determination to feed off any scraps that came his way, when he dragged a low angled 12-yarder across the face of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal and, agonisingly, beyond the far post, before then seeing another 18-yarder charged down.
Fourth-placed Chelsea’s FA Cup sixth-round victory at Leicester City on Sunday was their fifth successive win in all competitions and match-winning substitute Ross Barkley was rewarded with a starting place as former Hammer Lampard made half a dozen changes.
Only Willian, Rüdiger, N’Golo Kanté, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham retained their shirts for this return to Premier League action.
And on 18 minutes, Barkley found his shooting boots once more but the flying Fabiański saved the long-ranger and, seconds later, Pulisic curled an 18-yarder just millimetres over the angle before man mountain Ogbonna outmuscled the breaking Abraham as he burst into the Hammers area.
With Chelsea now gaining the upper hand, the midway drinks break came just in time for wobbling West Ham, who regrouped and forced their first corner of the night on the half-hour mark, which Jarrod Bowen curled to the far post with the help of a deflection off Mateo Kovacic.
And it was at that left upright where all the controversy took place as Souček got the better of César Azpilicueta before stabbing the ball past both the grounded Antonio and Arrizabalaga but the Czech’s joy at netting his first goal in English football was extinguished after a lengthy wait for VAR to decide that his flattened team-mate’s shoulder was offside!
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Then to compound the Hammers misery, Issa Diop’s challenge on the unsteady Pulisic, four minutes before the break, enabled Willian to fire Chelsea into the lead with a spot-kick that flew inside the left-hand post as Fabiański headed in the opposite direction.
Just when it looked like the first half had spectacularly unravelled for Moyes boys, Rüdiger’s failure to control a routine ball on the byline gifted them a stoppage-time corner and, when Bowen again sent the flag-kick to the far post, the soaring Soućek again got the better of Azpilicueta.
This time, with Arrizabalaga well beaten and the tumbling Abraham failing to clear off the line, nothing was going to stop the Czech’s thumping six-yard header from pulling West Ham level at the break.
Buoyed by that late leveller, West Ham emerged for the restart with a spring in their step and, within six minutes found themselves in front, when Declan Rice combined with Pablo Fornals, who played in the overlapping Bowen.
The January capture from Hull City delivered an inch-perfect, right-wing cross towards the penalty spot where Antonio – whose shout for a penalty a split-second earlier had been turned down – swept the ball beyond Arrizabalaga.
Shouts of Claret & Blue joy echoed around the cavernous London Stadium in celebration of the No.30’s third goal of the campaign and Lanzini then went close to adding a third before Lampard introduced Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud.
Lanzini also found time to be booked for felling Azpilicueta before being replaced by fit-again Jack Wilshere, who made a welcome return to the side, but it was Rice’s yellow card for upending Pulisic that proved more expensive with 18 minutes remaining, as Willian curled the consequent 22-yard free-kick in-off Fabiański’s left-hand post to level.
With Chelsea now pressing for the decider that would push them up into third spot, Yarmolenko stepped from the bench for the final dozen minutes and the Ukrainian duly marked his arrival with the match-winner as the end of normal time approached.
The attack-minded, overloaded Blues had left themselves woefully stretched at the back and when Rice cleverly cleared to halfway, Fornals and Antonio combined to send Yarmolenko racing clear down the opposite right-hand flank.
Despite Rudiger’s despairing lunge, the 86-times capped Hammers substitute kept his composure to drill a low 15-yarder past the helplessly exposed Arrizibalaga to send victorious West Ham flying up the table towards safety.
West Ham: Fabiański, Fredericks, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Souček, Rice, Lanzini (Wilshere 68), Fornals (Balbuena 90+1), Bowen (Yarmolenko 78), Antonio.
Unused subs: Randolph, Anderson, Ajeti, Silva, Lewis, Johnson.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Alonso, Kovacic (Mount 52), Kanté, Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 63), Willian, Pulisic, Abraham (Giroud 63).
Unused subs: Caballlero, Jorginho, Zouma, Hudson-Odoi, James, Gilmour.
Booked: Lanzini (65), Rice (70), Willian (81).
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
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