West Ham United: Hammers take vital point at Chelsea, but it could have been even more after strong finish
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 April 2018
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After being second best in first half, east Londoners had chances to win late on, but will no doubt be happy with draw
West Ham United’s trip to Chelsea in the Premier League was always likely to be considered a ‘bonus game’.
Sandwiched between home games against Southampton and Stoke City, both of whom currently sit in the relegation zone, the visit to Stamford Bridge represented a game with zero pressure for the Hammers.
As it was, David Moyes’ men were able to collect another valuable point that moved them six clear of the bottom three.
For much of the first half, the east Londoners did look second best, with Chelsea seemingly more dangerous with every attack.
After Alvaro Morata had already had a goal ruled out for offside, the hosts’ pressure finally told in the 36th minute.
A move from a corner saw Morata nod the ball back across goal for fellow Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta to tap in, though West Ham’s defending left a lot to be desired.
The Blues had chance after chance to kill the game off, but never took them and that gave the Hammers hope.
Three times before at Stamford Bridge Javier Hernandez had been used as a substitute and the Mexican had scored on each occasion.
The striker continued that run this time around too, netting in the 73rd minute with virtually his first touch since coming on to draw Moyes’ men level.
From there, the game was stretched, with Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso drawing a good stop from Joe Hart – one of several brilliant saves on the day from the England international.
West Ham themselves had a penalty appeal turned down and caused the home defence problems as the day wore on.
On another day, the Hammers may have taken one of those chances, but their boss was still pleased to take a point from the trip to Stamford Bridge.
“I’m not disappointed we didn’t win. I thought we played against a really slick, good Chelsea team, especially in the first half, and I was thrilled to get in at half-time only 1-0 down,” said Moyes.
“We gave away a really poxy first goal. If it had been a really good footballing goal, which they are capable of, it would not have been as bad, but we gave away a bad goal.
“I was thrilled to get in at half-time just a goal down, but we were always in with a chance of getting something out of the game.”
As for that late penalty shout, Marko Arnautovic broke clear of the Chelsea defence, but had N’Golo Kante bearing down on him.
As the Austrian went to pull the trigger from an acute angle inside the box, Kante slid in to win the ball.
In real time, it looked as though the Chelsea man had one the ball, but as replays so often do, doubts were raised after the game as to whether the ball had been won legally.
But rather than discuss whether his team should have had a penalty that may have won them the match, Moyes instead insisted he would rather talk about West Ham’s positive display.
“At the time I thought there was a bit on the ball. At my angle I was waiting on Marko getting his shot away,” he added.
“If it had been any other player than Kante, they wouldn’t have caught Marko.
“Whether it was a penalty or not, we didn’t get it. I’d rather talk about how well the team performed and kept at it and gave us a chance.
West Ham were also indebted to a fine display in goal from Hart, who produced several brilliant saves in arguably his best display for the club since joining on loan from Manchester City.
“That’s why Joe has so many caps and medals and played at the top level. He showed that performance.
“That will be good for Joe. He showed when he gets to that level of form, everyone knows he’s very good.”
For West Ham, it was a valuable point in their fight to beat the drop, with a sizable advantage now over the bottom three.
But after a ‘bonus’ game, now comes possibly the game of the season at home to Stoke.