Late Chelsea Strike Denies Hammers

West Ham United lost the first of their two consecutive London derbies, as they suffered a late 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

David Moyes made six changes to the team that drew with Burnley last weekend, as Vladimír Coufal, Mark Noble, Arthur Masuaku, Andriy Yarmolenko, Saïd Benrahma and Pablo Fornals all came in for Declan Rice, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini, Jarrod Bowen and Nikola Vlašić who all dropped to the bench.

Issa Diop sustained an ankle injury during last week’s match, meaning that Craig Dawson was the only centre-back available. Youngster Ajibola Alese was included in the matchday squad Saïd Benrahma took his place in the starting line-up.

First-team coach Stuart Pearce celebrated his 60th birthday on the day of the game and as Moyes is 59 this week also, they were looking for their side to have a bit of success in West London and as the Blues had not been in good form at home recently, the Hammers might have seen this as a chance to take advantage.

Thomas Tuchel’s men had lost their midweek game to Arsenal and made a series of uncharacteristic mistakes. They clearly hadn’t learnt from those, as they kept re-occurring throughout the first-half. The only difference was, the Irons weren’t reacting quickly enough to pounce on them.

To be fair, there was little to excite either the Chelsea season ticket holders, or those who had made the journey from East London in the opening stages with Mason Mount firing over on twenty six minutes and not even testing visiting goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.

The hosts had a chance just four minutes later but Ben Johnson made a crucial block from César Azpilicueta.

Six minutes later, Yarmolenko could have put his side ahead but the effort was just wide. Had the Ukrainian found the back of the net, it wouldn’t have counted as the linesman raised his flag for offside.

If either side was going to take a lead into the half-time break, it would have been West Ham but unfortunately, they were wasteful with the opportunities that came their way. Could they atone for that in the second forty five minutes?

Chelsea continued to make mistakes when the second-half got underway but on fifty two minutes, Timo Werner went close to opening the scoring but for a magnificent block from Dawson.

Although Tuchel’s side were still pressurising their visitors, Moyes’ men did fashion a chance when Johnson combined with Yarmolenko and the ball made its way to Tomáš Souček but another superb block meant that it was no trouble for home stopper Edouard Mendy.

At the other end, Chelsea nearly found the breakthrough when N’Golo Kanté found himself in space but Johnson again blocked, which in turn helped Fabiański make the save.

On sixty two minutes, Moyes decided it was time for him to make a change with Noble being replaced by Rice.

The West Ham defence was blocking everything in sight so far and it was left to Dawson to prevent Mount from trying to beat Fabiański again on seventy minutes, meaning the scores remained level.

Chelsea were on the charge again and Marcos Alonso played in Werner but fortunately for the Hammers, the German striker couldn’t make the most of his effort.

West Ham made their final two changes with Bowen replacing Masuaku, followed five minutes later by Lanzini’s introduction for Benrahma.

With five minutes of normal time to play, the match looked as if it would end in a goalless draw but after Dawson’s challenge on substitute Romelu Lukaku, referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty and initially gave the defender a yellow card but after a VAR check this was upgraded to a red, meaning there is some thinking to do ahead of the next three Premier League matches.

Fabiański didn’t have to make the save against Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet last week and the same happened here, as Jorginho missed, to the relief of the visitors.

That was until the game went into stoppage time when, another of Tuchel’s substitutions, Christian Pulisic found the net and there was no way back for the East Londoners.

Still there is another “big” European night on the horizon for them this coming Thursday when they face Eintract Frankfurt in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final.