West Ham United 3 Chelsea 2
Wednesday, 1st July 2020
by Chris Wilkerson
West Ham took everything thrown at them and, on this rare occasion, came out the other side with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Chelsea.Controversy, late pressure and conceding goals at the worst times looked set to take three valuable points away from the home side, but a third goal as time ebbed away gave Moyes?EUR(TM) side a crucial victory.
It was West Ham?EUR(TM)s first points and goals since the restart, a display of continuing hard work and resilience that added the goal threat that had been entirely lacking in the two games prior.
They came into the game with the captain missing, Noble having pulled up late yesterday in training. His absence saw the inclusion of Manuel Lanzini and he added something to the way the side was able to turn defence into attack, even if the counters were still slower than anyone would like.
Angelo Ogbonna returned too, replacing Balbuena, and while the side still conceded two, the defence looked a calmer presence with the Italian returning to the back line.
Five goals belie what was a somewhat cagey game, with the Hammers happy to concede the ball and try fire their way out of trouble with the strength and running of Antonio up front.
In a tight opening 15 minutes, it was Antonio who brought the first real incident of the match. He burst through two Chelsea defenders and into the area, creating a clear chance for himself. But the other side of the coin of the maverick Antonio is inconsistency, and he sliced his chance wide when he should have scored.
At the other end of the pitch, Chelsea were finding space for Alonso down the left, whilst Willian and Pulisic found pockets of space outside the area to cause problems. The latter will feel he should have scored inside the area after a lovely Abraham dummy, his first time shot drifting just wide.
A level affair looked to have had its deadlock broken not long after the half hour as Tomas Soucek prodded in what appeared to be his first goal.
Bowen?EUR(TM)s corner was flicked to the back post by a Chelsea defender, where Antonio missed an acrobatic attempt and saw the ball bounce down off Azpilicueta and be poked over the line by Soucek.
The Czech midfielder spiralled away in celebration, not quite expecting what came next. After three and a half minutes of line drawing and replays, the goal was disallowed, the eventual explanation being that Antonio?EUR(TM)s prone figure was obscuring the view of the Chelsea goalkeeper, his head in an offside position. The forward gave his reaction in a post-match interview of complete incredulation.
Three more minutes later, Chelsea rubbed salt in the wounds as Pulisic turned quickly and Diop dangled a clumsy leg that saw the American go flying down inside the West Ham area.
Willian confidently converted and it looked all too familiar a tale of bad luck and bad play in West Ham?EUR(TM)s slide towards relegation, the goal conceded minutes before half-time.
What was not expected was the response.
Having caused issues from the corner before, the plan remained the same. Bowen?EUR(TM)s inswinging corner went deep towards Soucek, the tall midfielder again marked by Azpilicueta, and this time Soucek climbed above him from close range to nod in an easy equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.
The home side deserved to head into the break in the lead, but a late equaliser was the kind of momentum they rarely seemed to have on their side.
They came back from the break with positive intent and a clear belief in what they were doing, the kind of energy in the side that has been lacking in the last two games.
The rewards came soon after, West Ham taking the lead six minutes into the second half.
Playing out from the defence, it was worked down the left, where the combination of Rice and Lanzini kept the ball moving forward. Rice then cut in, rifling a pass into Antonio in the area.
He twisted and turned before Rudiger threw him to the floor. It should have been a clear penalty, and maybe would have been if VAR had had the chance to look again.
For once, it was to West Ham?EUR(TM)s advantage. Fornals had darted in from the left to make it to the edge of the area, collecting the loose ball and feeding it wide to Bowen.
The winger darted down the right side of the box and drilled it across the face of goal, where Antonio waltzed in unmarked and crashed it into an empty net to give the side a precious lead.
What will delight West Ham fans nearly as much will be how they continued to look for opportunities to counter and put Chelsea under pressure. Lanzini could have done better from a good break by Fornals and Bowen, instead curling wide after taking too long to shoot.
Whilst these moments were still there, Chelsea began to take a firm grip on the game.
The wide areas were alarming, Willian, Pulisic and Alonso able to find or create space too easily.
Loftus-Cheek and Giroud were both guilty of missing presentable chances, and cross after cross had seemed to somehow miss Chelsea players at the vital moment.
The expected equaliser came with 20 minutes remaining.
Rice had fouled Pulisic quite ridiculous around 25 yards from goal to the left as Chelsea attacked.
As Willian stepped up, Fabianski overcompensated with his positioning, expecting the ball over the wall, but he also took an early step. Willian outfoxed him, going instead across goal and hitting the inside of the post before the ball rolled in. The freekick was excellent, but Fabianski could have prevented it.
Fears turned to how this game would be lost. With 22 points already dropped from winning positions this season, any fan could be forgiven for their pessimism.
Chelsea dominated, but created no clear chances. Piling forward in numbers, it was the oft lamented use of substitutions that gave the game one last twist. One final break, one last attack.
Soucek won a dropping ball on the edge of the West Ham area, heading down to Rice who twisted and cleared straight to the feet of Antonio.
The forward, who worked tirelessly throughout, got himself in front of his defender once more and prodded the ball back to Fornals. The Spaniard flicked it forward first time, Antonio spinning his man and breaking with the ball at his feet over the halfway line.
There was only one pass to play, and as the substitute Andriy Yarmolenko burst forward down the right, Antonio found him perfectly.
The Ukrainean did the rest, driving into the area, shifting the ball from outside to in and onto his left foot and curling the ball into the far corner to give West Ham a third, Yarmolenko his first goal since September and the side three vital points in the fight to avoid relegation.
It was fully deserved too, Chelsea never really flowing at their best and West Ham thriving on the weaknesses Lampard?EUR(TM)s side presented. They were lacklustre in the air, lazy to track back and notably frightened of Antonio?EUR(TM)s impact.
West Ham exposed those weaknesses and, with more movement and interchange in their midfield, were able to find pockets of space and time and strike effectively.
With all their rivals losing in this round of fixtures, some shoots of hope emerged. Three points and a double over Chelsea can do that.
* Want to submit your match reports to KUMB.com? More details here ...
Click to view all West Ham United vs Chelsea match reports
Click to view all match reports by Chris Wilkerson
Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.
Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Arguably, the one test he had was the free kick and he was at fault. Did the nuts and bolts as calmly as ever and it?EUR(TM)s only his high standards that make the goal so disappointing.
Solid and reasonably assured, although rarely any sort of forward option. That was likely tactical, and he made some important tackles, as well as being part of a much-improved defensive unit.
As quiet as Fredericks but probably without the solo impact. Nothing wrong, although Willian was notably a class above.
The penalty was very sloppy defending and could have really let his team down. The kind of thing that he needs to improve on as it wasn?EUR(TM)t hugely surprising.
Whilst he did nothing notably standout, there?EUR(TM)s such a presence to Ogbonna and something so reassuring about him compared to a defence without him. Little panic, brave and good in the air, Ogbonna has shone this season and the games without him, the side are worse.
A future West Ham captain, it has been said. He was great in the role today, vocal on the pitch but also leading by example. The foul for the freekick that Willian scored was the only blot on an otherwise excellent performance at both ends of the pitch.
Impressive. He made a physical nuisance of himself in midfield and is clearly a determined tackler. His aerial threat turned the game in his side?EUR(TM)s favour; it is clear he should have had two goals.
Does he ever stop running? It was his energy and desire to attack that meant he picked it up as Antonio was thrown to the floor before the second goal. It was him who was square of Yarmolenko in the dying minutes as the third goal went in. His quick touch to Antonio for that breakaway was subtle but brilliant.
Whilst a 6 may seem low, he was on the fringes of the Lanzini we know and need. His role in the side, the one Noble had played the game before, is much more suited to Lanzini, who combines in tight spaces well and reads the movement of Fornals better than other players.
Up and down the flank all game, Bowen has shown himself willing to do the work Moyes is demanding. But he?EUR(TM)s also bringing the attacking talent that the big money paid for. Two assists, one from a good corner and the other part of a good move. He never dominated the game, but he was vital.
Yes he should have scored earlier, yes only Antonio could get a West Ham goal ruled out because his head was offside whilst he lay on the floor, but the man earned that win for his side by being a front line all of his own, working tirelessly, scaring defenders. He created the chance he fluffed, his skill opened the move up for the one he eventually scored, he held the ball up and then played a perfect pass for goal three. Sensational.
(Replaced Lanzini) Lacked the pace of Lanzini and struggled to get into the game, but nearly set up Antonio late on and is an intelligent and calm ball player to bring on.
(Replaced Bowen) Came on, scored, job done. A trademark goal.
(Replaced Fornals) On for moments and touched the ball once.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play. * Other unused subs: Xande Silva, Albian Ajeti
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Tomas Soucek 45 Michail Antonio 51 Andriy Yarmolenko 89 .
Booked: Manuel Lanzini 0 Declan Rice 0 .
Sent off: None.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso, Kovacic (Mount 52), Kante, Pulisic, Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 63), Willian, Abraham (Giroud 63).
Subs not used: Caballero, James, Zouma, Jorginho, Gilmour, Hudson-Odoi.
Goals: Willian (pen 42, 72).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Michail Antonio.