Pulisic’s last-minute winner snatches deserved point from plucky 10-man Hammers
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 v West Ham 0
Christian Pulisic snatched a last-minute winner for Chelsea to down plucky West Ham who didn’t deserve to lose 1-0 at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
The substitute swept home a crisp left-footer from close range after excellent set up play by Mason Mount and Marcos Alonso.
The Hammers were down to 10-men at that point after Craig Dawson was adjudged, on 86 minutes, after a VAR intervention that he had denied substitute Romelu Lukaku a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
A penalty was also awarded, which Jorginho made an embarrassing hack of.
A draw was looking the most likely outcome at that point, until the US winger scored.
With West Hm having one eye on Thursday’s Europa League match at home to Frankfurt, and Chelsea struggling with form at home, this match was destined not to be a classic.
Expectations were fully met.
The opening exchanges were lacking in intensity and any sense of a genuine goal threat.
The most exciting thing to occur in the first 15 minutes was Cesar Azpilicueta changing his boots.
Mendy was called into action on 18 minutes when Azpilicueta lost the ball to Said Benrahma. The wide man raced into the Chelsea area, left fly with a shot, which the Senegalese smothered well.
The best effort fell to the visitors’ Andriy Yarmolenko on 33 minutes when he produce an excellent snatched left-footer from the left of the Chelsea area. It zipped across Mendy but inched wide of his left post
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
Chelsea’s first effort on goal came on 56 minutes, from the unlikely left boot of N’Golo Kante.
The France midfielder picked the ball up 10 yards outside the West Ham penalty area. He raced forward and produced a fierce effort. The ball took a slight deflection off Craig Dawson, but luckily for Lukasz Fabianski, the ball arrowed directed to him and he snatched it out of the air.
West Ham made their first change - off came Mark Noble and on came Declan Rice.
A quick break by the Hammers saw Mendy make a double save on 70 minutes, while seconds later Timo Werner smashed the side-netting of the visitor’s goal.
The game opened up at this point, with both sides reading that three points were up for grabs.
A snatched shot by Werner seemed goal-bound, but Fabianski managed to snaffle the ball at the last second.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel decided on a triple change on 74 minutes. On came Romelu Lukaku, Christen Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech. Off went, Loftus-Cheek, Werner and Havertz.
West Ham responded by bringing in Manuel Lanzini, with Benrahma making way.
With four minutes left on the clock, Chelsea got a penalty when Thiago Silva’s knock-on header saw Lukaku and Dawson clash. Referee Michael Oliver adjudged Lukaku to be pulled back and gave a penalty.
VAR then intervened to ask Olivier to check the monitor for a possible red card for the centre-back - denying Lukaku a goal-scoring opportunity.
He did and changed his yellow to Dawson to red.
Up stepped Jorginho to take the spot kick and fluffed his lines and he took what was possible the worst spot kick ever as his weak effort drifted towards the middle of the goal with Fabianski almost embarrassed to stop it. But of course he did.
But the home side managed to make their numerical advantage count on 90 minutes.
On a quick counter attack, Mason Mount raced deep into the Hammers half on the left. He passed to Marcos Alonso who sent in a low, left byline cross. In-running Pulisic met the ball firmly and drove a left-footer into the back of Fabianski’s net.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Alonso, Chalobah, Jorginho, Silva, Kante, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Azpilicueta, Havertz
Subs: Kepa, Lukaku, Pulisic, , Saul, Barkley, Ziyech, Kenedy, Sarr
West Ham, Fabianski, Cresswell, Coufal, Yarmolenko, Fornals, Dawson, Noble, Benrahma, Masuaku, Soucek, Johnson
Subs: Areola, Antonio, Lanzini, Vlasic, Bowen, Fredericks, Karl, Rice, Alese
Referee: Michael Oliver