Cresswell strike bests Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 0-1 West Ham United
Aaron Cresswell’s superbly-taken second-half effort was enough to secure West Ham three points to remember against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Captain Mark Noble spoke before the game about the need to maintain recent levels of endeavour while maintaining greater concentration.
With all in Claret and Blue delivering performances which combined industry with invention and steel, Cresswell's cut inside and right-footed finish on 48 minutes - after being played in by Pablo Fornals - proved sufficient to give West Ham their first win at the west London ground in 17 years.
Seeking their first win in eight Premier League games, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini shuffled his pack with four changes to the team, Fabian Balbuena and Pablo Fornals both returning to his starting line-up.
Michail Antonio was rewarded for his goalscoring second-half appearance last week with a start up front, while goalkeeper David Martin, son of former Hammers legend Alvin, experienced an unforgettable debut in Claret and Blue.
An open start to the match saw the first clear-cut chance fall to the Blues after just three minutes. Emerson’s pull-back inside the area deflected into the path of Pedro, but the Spaniard’s scuffed shot was blocked by the legs of Ogbonna.
Moments later and the Hammers’ first productive move of the match arrived, Cresswell enjoying time and space to shape a curling cross from deep onto the outstretched boot of Antonio, but the No30’s improvised finish was always requisite of more control.
Any early nerves for Martin will have been settled a minute later when Mason Mount burst into space from Giroud’s lay-off, his 25-yard strike gathered at the second attempt by the West Ham keeper.
Luck proved on West Ham’s side 15 minutes later, Reece James’ ball from the right taking a big nick off the outstretched foot of Cresswell, the looping cross clipping outside of Martin’s left stick. Zouma climbed highest from the resulting corner, but glanced wide of the mark.
The Hammers responded with vigour and, three minutes later, Anderson’s cross-field pass allowed Snodgrass to cut in from the right and whip a ball onto the head of the diving Antonio. The No30’s header proved a fraction too close to Kepa in the Chelsea net, but the Claret and Blue faithful roared in approval.
While West Ham grew into the half and enjoyed more and more possession in and around the Chelsea area, the better chances fell to the home side prior to half-time, Martin springing to his right to deny Kovacic’s laced long-range effort before Pulisic failed to control James’ fizzing cross.
If that final ball was proving elusive in the first 45 minutes, the Hammers set about with renewed determination for that not to prove the case in the second.
Just two minutes after half-time, a sweeping moved allowed Fornals to feed Cresswell on the overlap. The No3 burst into the box and lifted his head, before cutting onto his right and curling a precise finish low past Kepa from a tight angle.
Ten minutes later, and two tantalising Snodgrass corners almost led to the Hammers doubling their lead. The first met the head of Balbuena, whose thumping header was tipped around the post by Kepa, before the second almost bounced onto the foot of Antonio inside the six-yard area, Chelsea's No1 ultimately gathering.
A decisive second goal looked to have arrived on 67 minutes after Snodgrass beat Willian on the outside and drove into the area, scooping the ball towards the far post where Antonio was on hand to bundle into the net via a combination of Zouma and – unfortunately, as VAR identified – hand.
With confidence boosted, the Hammers countered with purpose on numerous occasions while ensuring they had enough bodies to frustrate Chelsea’s dangerous wide players, Rice in particular leading the charge with a number of timely interceptions.
As the game drifted towards five minutes of nerve-wrenching injury time, Pulisic found space on the edge of the West Ham box for Chelsea's clearest chance of the half, but could only lash wide from 20 yards.
After some difficult moments in recent weeks, this was truly West Ham's day - a just reward for a show of heart, grit, pride and togetherness.
Chelsea: Kepa, James, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Jorginho (c) (Kante 63), Kovacic, Pedro (Willian 63), Pulisic, Mount, Giroud (Hudson-Odoi 71)
Subs: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Batshauyi
West Ham United: Martin, Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble (c), Snodgrass, Fornals (Masuaku 83), Felipe Anderson (Yarmolenko 71), Antonio (Haller 76)
Subs: Roberto, Zabaleta, Sanchez, Ajeti
Goal: Cresswell 48’
Booked: Fornals, Yarmolenko, Cresswell
Referee: Jonathan Moss