By theguardian |
Yarmolenko makes Chelsea pay in derby as West Ham edge clear of drop zone
The day Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner officially became Chelsea players ended with Frank Lampard seeing that his side will continue to fall short until they have reliable centre-backs. Lampard has sharpened his attack before next season but his defence was an accident waiting to happen throughout this derby settled by Andriy Yarmolenko in added time, easing West Ham’s relegation fears with a fabulous late winner.
This was an uneven display from Chelsea, who missed the opportunity to move five points clear of Manchester United and replace Leicester in third, and another reminder they still lack the balance to rival Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table.
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They were shaky on set-pieces, with Kepa Arrizabalaga rooted to his line too often, and there was not enough leadership from Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen in defence.
Chelsea need a top defender this summer. West Ham, three points above 18th-placed Bournemouth after this win, exploited their frailties at the back secured a precious double over their neighbours when a counterattack ended with Michail Antonio freeing Yarmolenko, who cut inside before finishing magnificently with his left foot.
Opportunity knocked for Chelsea after Leicester’s defeat to Everton earlier in the evening and they began in the right style, hogging the ball and forcing West Ham to retreat towards Lukasz Fabianski’s goal. There were plenty of bright moves from the visitors, plenty of times when Marcos Alonso attacked from left-back before finding space behind Ryan Fredericks, and there was much to admire about the precision of their passing in midfield.
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For all their possession, however, Chelsea struggled to make a clear opportunity during the opening period. They weaved pretty patterns on the edge of the West Ham area and Christian Pulisic bent a shot just wide after a clever dummy from Tammy Abraham, but picking the lock was far from straightforward.
There were times when it seemed the main danger for Chelsea was that they would beat themselves and they almost fell behind when Arrizabalaga, a goalkeeper with an unsettling habit of taking risks with the ball at his feet, played his team into trouble. He was relieved to see Antonio fire wide after bursting past Rüdiger.
West Ham grew into the contest, edging forward and feeding off Antonio’s power up front and they were a threat from set-pieces. They thought they had the lead when a corner from Jarrod Bowen led to Soucek jabbing past Arrizabalaga, only for a VAR review to detect Antonio lying in an offside position and interfering with play. The same combination hauled the hosts level on the stroke of half-time.
It was a fine way for West Ham to respond after the blow of going behind just after having a goal ruled out. Chelsea had found the breakthrough when Pulisic, dangerous whenever he drifted in from the left, went over Issa Diop’s outstretched leg, giving Willian the chance to score his second penalty in the space of a week.
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West Ham won another corner on the right and this time Bowen hung a fine delivery towards the far post, where Soucek rose above César Azipilicueta before heading home his first goal in a claret and blue shirt.
Soucek has given West Ham greater presence in midfield since arriving on loan in January and the Czech international’s goal gave his side hope for the second half. They were rewarded for playing with greater adventure when they went ahead in the 51st minute, Pablo Fornals finding Bowen, who teased Alonso before fizzing in a low centre for Antonio to score from close range.
The question before kick-off was whether West Ham would have enough bite without Sébastien Haller leading the line. Yet Chelsea had wilted. Antonio was bullying them and Bowen was causing problems on the right. Rüdiger and Christensen had fallen apart and West Ham had chances to extend their lead, the best of them when Manuel Lanzini ruined a flowing break by firing over.
Lampard responded with an attacking change, introducing Mason Mount for Kovacic, but Chelsea had grown sloppy on the ball. Abraham was a disappointment before making way for Olivier Giroud, while Ross Barkley failed to take his chance before coming off for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
A moment of magic rescued Chelsea, Declan Rice’s foul on Pulisic allowing Willian to bend a sumptuous free-kick in off the post, but Yarmolenko stole the show after coming off the bench.
West Ham United Chelsea match reports
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