Late Yarmolenko strike stuns Chelsea and pulls West Ham out of mire
When David Moyes replaced Jarrod Bowen with Andriy Yarmolenko with 12 minutes of this game remaining, it looked for all the world that he had surrendered West Ham United’s best chance of clinching the most valuable of three points.
Bowen, along with Michail Antonio, had been a constant menace to the Chelsea defence and had set up both of West Ham’s goals to that point. Yarmolenko, on the other hand, had not scored a West Ham goal since September and had looked anything but a match-winner in his last cameo performance in the defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But the way in which the Ukrainian took Antonio’s 89th-minute pass in his stride and kept his cool to beat Chelsea’s uninspiring goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga suggested Moyes had known exactly what he was doing.
West Ham have now moved three points clear of the relegation zone with a more favourable run of fixtures to come. And if West Ham secure their survival, then the six points they have taken against Chelsea this season will rank as their best results of the season.
Antonio, playing as a makeshift striker, terrorised Chelsea’s defensive duo of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen all evening and had Rudiger rattled from the moment he burst past him and Marcos Alonso inside the area before dragging a shot wide.
Bowen, the impressive January signing, was just as dangerous with his direct and intelligent wing play, combined with his well-delivered set-pieces.
was from a Bowen corner that Tomas Soucek thought he had given West Ham a 34th-minute lead, only for the goal to be ruled out by Var, which judged Antonio had been lying in an offside position. The technology got Kepa off the hook, as the Spaniard was nowhere to be seen, but he was not so lucky later in the first half.
West Ham’s feeling of injustice was heightened eight minutes later, when Chelsea undeservedly went ahead from the penalty spot.
Christian Pulisic, who had missed an earlier chance, burst into the area and tempted Issa Diop into a stupid challenge. Willian duly dispatched the ball into the net.
That should have been the cue for West Ham heads to drop, but the home side hit back in first-half stoppage time from another corner.
Kepa was once again in no-man’sland when Bowen sent his corner to the back post and this time Var did not need to be called on, as Soucek rose above Cesar Azpilicueta and headed the ball into the net.
Frank Lampard, the Chelsea head coach, already had misgivings over Kepa and this performance may well have made his mind up on whether he needs a new goalkeeper.
Lampard resisted the temptation to make changes at the break, but he was soon looking to his bench after Chelsea fell behind in the 51st minute. This time Kepa could not be blamed, but questions will be asked of Rudiger and Christensen as the pair switched off when Antonio fell to the ground and appealed for a penalty just inside the area.
The shouts were ignored, but so to was Bowen as Antonio rose to his feet to convert the winger’s cross.
Chelsea had looked flat in attack, but another burst of pace from Pulisic allowed Willian once again to beat Fabianski with a set-piece with 18 minutes remaining. It will not have been lost on Lampard that the Brazilian has now scored three times since signing his temporary contract extension.
Declan Rice brought Pulisic down 20 yards from goal and Willian’s free-kick struck the inside of a post before the ball nestled into the net to draw Chelsea level.
Many would have judged the decision to replace Bowen, who had also set up a chance for Manuel Lanzini, with Yarmolenko as the actions of a desperate man and yet it proved an inspired move from Moyes.
As Chelsea poured forwards in search of a winner, the home team broke and Antonio swept the ball out to Yarmolenko, who did the rest. Lampard slumped back in his chair, Moyes danced for joy and Baroness Brady clapped her approval from the empty stands.
tion and directly in the line of vision of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Moyes was clearly incensed, and his mood darkened even further when Willian gave Chelsea the lead just a few moments later from the penalty spot.
However, a Soucek header just before half-time drew West Ham level, and after Antonio and Willian traded second-half goals, a late Andriy Yarmolenko winner lifted West Ham three points clear of the drop zone.
Asked whether his players had been fired by a sense of injustice following the VAR incident, Moyes replied: “I was. I was spewing. I felt angry at the time. I felt too many small decisions were going against us. But I’ve got to say the boys never allowed it to affect us.
“There’s nothing you can do. You hope that somewhere along the road, with the handball against Sheffield United, the decision at Tottenham, the one tonight, that something might go for you. But at the moment, certainly not in my time, I can’t remember one going for us with the VAR.”
West Ham have 30 points with six games of the season remaining, including three against teams below them in Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa. Moyes, who said he was delighted with the competition developing between a fit-again Yarmolenko and Jarrod Bowen, said 40 points was now the target.
“One win is not enough,” he said. “It’s only one win and we have to win more if we’re going to remain a Premier League club. But it was an outstanding result for us and an outstanding performance from the players.”
Frank Lampard, meanwhile, said his Chelsea players needed to develop a stronger mentality if they were to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. With Leicester losing at Everton, Chelsea had the opportunity to go third with victory. “I think it’s something that’s happened a few times this season,” Lampard said. “We’ve had the opportunity to jump teams. The reason we’re chasing teams like Liverpool and Man City is because of that [mentality].”
Hammer blow: Andriy Yarmolenko beats Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger with the winner