League leaders get London Stadium revenge
West Ham United 1-2 Chelsea
A tall order, it was always likely to be, beating Premier League leaders Chelsea twice in the space of six months at London Stadium.
Having triumphed over their London rivals in the EFL Cup back in October, the Hammers couldn’t make it three home wins against Chelsea in a row as the revenge-seeking Blues were 2-1 winners on Monday evening.
And the visitors won the game in typically clinical fashion, hunting down the Hammers’ every mistake and punishing them ruthlessly, despite Slaven Bilic’s side’s particular first half dominance.
Terrific Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli and Jose Fonte chances came and went, and despite Lanzini’s injury time strike, Chelsea’s goals – scored by two of the league’s most deadly in Eden Hazard and Diego Costa – saw the west Londoners through.
Most certainly, though, West Ham – roared on by the fantastic support inside London Stadium – had the better of the first half.
Swinging in plenty of crosses for the returning Andy Carroll to attack, Bilic’s men put the league leaders under plenty of pressure and a succession of corners after 20 minutes almost forced the opener, though the Blues clearing their lines on three occasions.
And despite the hosts’ dominance, the opener came against the run of play. Following Manuel Lanzini’s blocked free-kick, skipper Mark Noble was dispossessed, allowing N’Golo Kante space inside his own half.
The Frenchman found Hazard who set off at blistering pace and, after exchanging a one-two with teammate Pedro, rounded Darren Randolph coolly before slotting home. Clinical.
The Hammers – persistent – continued to apply pressure. With Noble and Pedro Obiang pulling the strings, Lanzini came closest to equalising as he broke away from the Chelsea midfield before firing over from 20 yards after receiving Noble’s pass.
A minute later, the west Londoners almost converted another breakaway move, though this time Aaron Cresswell blocked well from Victor Moses’ effort before Randolph denied Pedro with a cracking reaction stop.
The second half began in devastating fashion for West Ham. Fabregas’ corner was flicked on at the near post by Pedro Obiang and, just five minutes in, Costa was allowed the space to nudge home from two yards.
Marcos Alonso went close to adding a third minutes later, but Bilic’s side never gave up the fight. Carroll curled over spectacularly from 30 yards before Feghouli was denied by a brave, blocking Moses and Fonte headed wide Cresswell’s cross.
Randolph made sure the game was still just about in reach with 23 minutes remaining as he, stretching to his right, tipped Costa’s attempt round the post, but the Blues stayed strong.
Strong, until the 92nd minute, that was. Substitute Andre Ayew, bursting towards the Chelsea box, found Lanzini who controlled before finishing with aplomb to rattle Antonio Conte’s team’s nerves.
Held on they did, however, to record an eighth win in ten and condemn the Hammers to a harsh defeat.
West Ham United: Randolph, Kouyate, Reid (Byram 64), Fonte, Cresswell, Noble (Fernandes 76), Obiang, Feghouli (Ayew 64), Lanzini, Snodgrass, Carroll.
Subs not used: Adrian, Collins, Masuaku, Calleri.
Chelsea: Courtois, Moses (Zouma 76), Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Alonso, Kante, Fabregas, Hazard (Willian 74), Pedro (Matic 64), Costa.
Subs not used: Begovic, Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi, Terry.