KENYA BROWN - Thursday, July 2, 2020
Christian Pulisic continued his fine run of form for Chelsea, but their defense let them down in the end as they surrendered a late goal to end up on the losing end to West Ham United.
West Ham United 3-2 Chelsea
Andriy Yarmolenko scored the game-winning goal for West Ham United as the race for the remaining two Champions League spots grew even tighter with Chelsea's loss at the London Stadium.
Christian Pulisic started the game for the Blues and went the distance, showing there was no issue with his calf after being pulled from their FA Cup game against Leicester City over the weekend.
With new signees Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech now with the team, although not allowed to play in the season's remaining games, it was crucial for players in the attack to make an impression as they look to remain in the Frank Lampard's plan next season.
Pulisic, who has been one of the shining lights for Chelsea since the season was restarted, came very close in the 20th minute to opening the scoring when Cesar Azpilicueta's low cross from the right side found in the American in the area. However, his shot went just wide of the mark.
Following a disallowed goal for the host from VAR, Pulisic gave Chelsea a chance to break the scoreless deadlock when he won a penalty after being brought down in the area by Issa Diop. Willian then stepped up and converted the spot-kick for his team.
Chelsea would not hold the lead for long as West Ham leveled the score before the halftime whistle. Toma Soucek would win the air battle to head a corner kick from Jarrod Bowen.
The goal gave the Hammers some confidence entering the second half and they would go on to take the lead just six minutes in when Michail Antonio found the back of the net. His initial pleas for a penalty were ignored after it appeared that he was taken down in the area by Chelsea center-back Antonio Rudiger. However, West Ham maintained possession of the ball, allowing Bowen to cross the ball in the area and the England forward would be on the spot to tap the ball in.
Chelsea was looking for any way to get themselves back into the game, and Pulisic would lead the charge as he was literally all over the place in the attack to find the equalizer. He would again find himself drawing West Ham into committing a foul when he was brought down to give his team a free-kick.
Willian went on to score his second goal on the night in the 70th minute with a brilliant free-kick that hit the inside of the post before crossing over the goal line.
Chelsea had a chance to retake the lead a minute late when Pulisic made another mazy run towards West Ham's goal, but his shot went wide.
With time winding down, West Ham was given an opportunity for the game-winner and they took advantage when they hit Chelsea on the counter-attack. Yarmolenko was then left one-on-one with Rudiger and the Ukrainian would get shot past the German defender to give his team a much-needed three points.
Another strong outing for Pulisic overall, but he'll be fuming about those missed chances on goal which could have proven to bring a different result for Chelsea.
Chelsea remains in fourth place in the standings with 54 points, two points ahead of both Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In other Premier League action, DeAndre Yedlin played the final 17 minutes for Newcastle United in their 4-1 win over Bournemouth.
Down in the Championship, Tim Ream and Fulham got their first points since the restart as they came away with a 2-1 win over Geoff Cameron and Queens Park Rangers.
Cameron Carter-Vickers played the entire 90 minutes for Luton Town as they held Leeds United to a 1-1 tie.
Antonee Robinson started for Wigan Athletic in their 3-0 win over Stoke City.
Duane Holmes played 65 minutes for Derby County in 1-0 win over Preston North End. The Rams are now one point away from the playoff places.