A dismal Jorginho penalty miss did not prove costly after Christian Pulisic’s late winner snatched three points for Chelsea against a resilient 10-man West Ham.
Thomas Tuchel made three changes from Wednesday’s 4-2 home loss to Arsenal, with Reece James dropping out of the matchday squad altogether. Kai Havertz started up front ahead of Romelu Lukaku, with Cesar Azpilicueta in a back-three alongside Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah.
David Moyes made six changes for West Ham, with Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen among a host of senior stars rested ahead of their Europa League excursion on Thursday.
Chelsea continued their recent trend of looking shaky at the back in the early going. Both Azpilicueta and Chalobah committed errors deep inside their own half, though West Ham’s much-changed forward line failed to make them pay.
Both sides lacked intent and conviction in the first half hour. That particular mark in the match came and went without either goalkeeper being required to make a save.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek finally snapped that streak when calling Lukasz Fabianski into action in the 37th minute. The Hammers failed to clear a long throw, though his strike lacked the power or placement to beat the keeper.
The lack of atmosphere around the reduced capacity Stamford Bridge mirrored the lack of action and application on the field. Half-time came as a mercy for both sets of players and the fans alike.
Chelsea rise from their slumber
With Thomas Tuchel’s words ringing in their ears, Chelsea upped the tempo immediately after the break.
Mason Mount, Havertz and Timo Werner were all involved in a move that had West Ham’s defence scrambling. A Havertz knock-down teed up fellow countryman Werner, though Craig Dawson threw his body at the German to deny a certain goal.
West Ham offered a threat of their own through Andriy Yarmolenko, but with the crowd now up, Chelsea looked the likeliest bet of breaking the deadlock.
N’Golo Kante and Chalobah both stung Fabianski’s palms from distance as the hour mark passed. With the game’s direction turning, David Moyes responded by introducing Declan Rice in favour of Mark Noble.
That helped to stifle Chelsea’s threat for a while, though Dawson was again on hand to make yet another key block when denying Mount. The ball ricocheted to Werner who fired into the side netting under pressure from the West Ham centre-back.
Thomas Tuchel rung the changes with Romelu Lukaku, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all introduced. Lukaku’s impact was immediate when spinning the otherwise excellent Dawson before being hauled to the ground in the area.
Dawson saw red for the challenge but West Ham weren’t punished when Jorginho fluffed his lines from the spot.
The Italy international utilised his customary jumping technique, though Fabianski simply waited for the ball to be struck and calmly pouched the dismal effort.
PENALTY MISSED! Wow… just wow! ❌ pic.twitter.com/vjOVTPo3To
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 24, 2022
Yet more late drama was to come when Chelsea bagged a 90th minute winner.
Marcos Alonso marauded down the left flank before seeing his accurate cut-back tucked away by Pulisic.
With so little time left on the clock, the American’s late cameo proved decisive and eased any growing Chelsea nerves around their place inside the top four.