Andriy Yarmolenko stepped off the bench going to the winner as West Ham shrugged off VAR controversy to beat Chelsea 3-2 and present their Premier League survival hopes a massive boost.
The Hammers had controversially been denied an opener when Tomas Soucek’s strike was scrubbed out by VAR but battled back from Willian’s (42) penalty to lead when Soucek (45+2) and Michail Antonio (51) netted either side of the break.
However, a superb free-kick from Willian (72) looked to have shared the points until West Ham broke away and Antonio teed up Yarmolenko to cut past Antonio Rudiger to fire home in the 89th minute.
That goal sealed just the third win of David Moyes’ 2nd tenure at West Ham and lifts the Hammers three points above the relegation zone with six games remaining.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will be frustrated at failing woefully to capitalise on Leicester’s loss to Everton earlier in the day, each time a win in east London would have moved them around third.
West Ham: Fabianski (5), Fredericks (6), Ogbonna (7), Diop (5), Cresswell (6), Soucek (8), Rice (8), Bowen (8), Fornals (6), Lanzini (6), Antonio (9).
Subs: Wilshere (6), Yarmolenko (8), Balbuena (n/a)
Chelsea: Kepa (6), Azpilicueta (4), Christensen (5), Rudiger (4), Alonso (6), Barkley (5), Kovacic (5), Kante (5), Willian (8), Abraham (6), Pulisic (9).
Subs: Mount (7), Giroud (7), Loftus-Cheek (6)
Man of the match: Michail Antonio (West Ham)
How West Ham pulled off an important win
With only goal huge difference keeping West Ham out from the relegation zone at kick-off, they were pushed back in the beginning by Chelsea, with Marcos Alonso and Willian hitting the target.
But Antonio was a threat on the break and should did better when he scuffed wide on 13 minutes. Pulisic then blew a great chance of their own at another end, curling over from 15 yards out as Chelsea resumed control.
- West Ham were without the injured Mark Noble, Manuel Lanzini comes in, with Angelo Ogbonna replacing Fabian Balbuena.
- Tammy Abraham started in advance for Chelsea, while Mateo Kovacic replaced Mason Mount.
However, it absolutely was West Ham who thought they’d taken the lead against the run of play on 34 minutes when Soucek finished off a goalmouth scramble – but after three and a half minutes of deliberation, VAR ruled the floored Antonio was offside.
PGMOL VAR explainer
In the 34th minute of West Ham United v Chelsea, Tomas Soucek’s goal was disallowed following a VAR Review for an offside offence against Michail Antonio. The on-field decision was to award the goal, however the VAR advised the referee that Antonio was in a offside position and directly in the line of vision of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea rubbed salt in West Ham wounds by winning a penalty at the other end moments later when Pulisic was too slick for Issa Diop and Willian made no mistake from the spot.
But West Ham refused to be denied and from yet another corner, Soucek once again got the better of Cesar Azpilicueta at the rear post and headed the hosts level seconds prior to the half-time whistle with his first goal for the club.
West Ham began the second half impressively and within six minutes of the restart completed the comeback when Antonio – who had a good penalty appeal against Rudiger in the build-up – slammed home Jarrod Bowen’s low centre.
But hopes of an important win were short-lived, so when the standout Pulisic was brought down on the edge of the box Willian whipped a fantastic free-kick in off the post – even though Lukasz Fabianski’s positioning on his side of the wall looked questionable.
Sub Jack Wilshere – making his first appearance since October – played in Antonio for a one-on-one but Kepa Arrizabalaga was out well to deal with the risk before Chelsea replacement Olivier Giroud mis-kicked at the vital moment at another end.
There was no mistake from Yarmolenko though. The ice-cool Ukrainian – who had left Alonso trailing – showed excellent composure in the final moments to twist past Rudiger and fired past Kepa to grab three vital points for his side.
Neville: What have you been doing, Marcos Alonso?
Neither co-commentator Gary Neville, nor former Chelsea defender and studio guest Ashley Cole were impressed with Alonso’s casual tracking of Yarmolenko for West Ham’s late winner.
Neville said: “Look at him, look at him! What are you doing, Marcos Alonso? There’s his running back speed which has cost Chelsea the overall game. Those Ukrainian wingers Konoplyanka and Yarmolenko always played on the alternative side, cutting inside, but Alonso is level with him at the point the counter starts.
“He does not bother, that is why he’s under some pressure at this club and Frank Lampard notice. Run straight back as fast as you can whenever your team lose the ball, you learn that aged six.”
Cole added: “One of the items I hate about full-backs is when you are happy to run back although not track. I get they are pushing for this, last 5 minutes of the overall game, but you desire a point here. Could that he have run straight back, could that he have run back with the intensity that he ran forwards? Probably, yes. Could he anticipate early in the day? Yes.
“As players, you’ve got to want to work and not be happy to be beaten. Alonso needs to get back quicker. They’ve reacted too late, but first and foremost you’ve got to defend.”
- West Ham ended a 20-game losing run when conceding the initial goal in Premier League fixtures, with this particular the first time they avoided defeat after conceding first in the competition since February 2019 – a 3-1 make an impression on Fulham.
- Only opponents West Ham (22) and Aston Villa (19) have dropped more points from leading positions in this season’s Premier League than Chelsea (18).
- This was Chelsea’s 10th Premier League defeat of the growing season; only in 2015-16, if they finished 10th, have they suffered more in a single campaign in the Roman Abramovich era (12).
- Chelsea’s Willian became the initial player in Premier League history to score in most 12 calendar months in the competition.
Chelsea host Watford on Saturday – from 7.45pm on Sky Sports Premier League – while West Ham go Newcastle on Sunday – from 2pm on Sky Sports Premier League.