Chelsea have Christian Pulisic to thank for the last-minute win against 10 West West players at Stamford Bridge, a result that cemented their third-place finish in the Premier League.
The visiting Hammers looked set to hold on to the point and even survived Jorginho’s late penalty kick, which left the outstanding Craig Dawson out. But Pulisic swept Marcos Alonso’s cross home just as the clock was ticking.
With one strong eye in the first leg of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final, there was a level of rotation and a defensive look from David Moyes. But they were right about it and almost punished Chelsea for individual mistakes in catching the ball in the first 20 minutes.
The Blues looked flat for more than 50 minutes. They did not have a crowd to pick them up due to the ongoing restrictions on ticket sales as part of UK government fines levied on outgoing owner Roman Abramovich. Recent side effects also seemed to burden them.
Half an hour into the match, Andriy Yarmolenko shone one in the face. In fact, it would have been better to leave Said Benrahma the ball, which he came to from a better place.
But during the break, no group was able to fire at them. West Ham are happy to fit in and let Chelsea play in front of them. There is no intelligence from Thomas Tuchel’s side and Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner may not have been on the field at the time.
the second half started in the same way until Chelsea finally started picking up the tempo. A flying block from Dawson halted Werner’s volley-blocked volley on his trail, and the defender blocked two more attempts an hour earlier.
Fabianski was immediately called to the scene twice, first as he grasped a thank-you note for the deviant attempt that made him fall asleep over his head, and then drove the Trevoh Chalobah drive to safety. Dawson then made another big block, this time denying Mount before Fabianski shut Werner off in the rebound.
When Dawson finally missed a defensive header, Werner could not find enough strength in his shot from close range to beat Fabianski.
Tuchel made the change just 15 minutes from time, turning to Romelu Lukaku, Christian Pulisic et Hakim Ziyech to give Chelsea a new boost. It looked like it worked when Lukaku successfully rolled Dawson in the final minutes and was sent off by a West Ham defender, who was then given his marching orders after referee Michael Oliver met with pitchside surveillance.
But with Jorginho’s weak penalty, down and straight in the middle, easily saved by Fabianski, it was Pulisic who continued to win instead.