Yarmolenko’s late strike a lifeline for Hammers

West Ham United 3-2 Chelsea

ANDRIY YARMOLENKO’S late goal earned battling West Ham United a priceless and unlikely victory over in-form Chelsea at the London Stadium.

These are desperate times for West Ham despite their relegation rivals tripping at every hurdle in attempting to claw their way past them. The East Londoners went into the game separated from the dropzone by a goal difference bolstered by a heavy defeat for Bournemouth at Arsenal in the evenings early fixture.

But in truth, the Hammers haven’t looked like winning either of their matches since the restart: “We prepare to try and win all our games,” David Moyes explained

“It doesn’t matter who you play. We went to Anfield not so long ago and we gave a really good account of ourselves.

“We’ve been in some games recently where it’s looked as if we’re odds-against, and we’ve gone very close. I’ve got to hope that one of these times we’re going to tip the balance and get a result from it.”

Ending that sequence against Chelsea side packed with an embarrassment of riches, appeared a tall order. Moyes had to make do without skipper, Mark Noble – a hamstring strain the cause – while a wretched run of one win from eleven outings suggested little to come from then Scotsman’s side.

But the form book was to be sent spinning on a dramatic night in E20. Willian and Ross Barkley tested Lukasz Fabianski, while Michail Antonio passed up a glorious opportunity after skipping between Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso during a well-contested opening quarter.

By and large, Chelsea looked the more comfortable. Christian Pulisic was a whisker away following a flowing move down the right involving skipper, Cesar Azpilicueta.

Just after the half-hour mark, the hosts believed they snatched a vital breakthrough. Chelsea made a hash of clearing Jarrod Bowen’s flag-kick – Tomas Soucek bundled home from close range. VAR intervened – the grounded Antonio adjudged off-side after another tedious wait.

And having survived that scare, Chelsea took control. Pulisic went over Issa Diop’s clumsy challenge – Willian rattled home the resulting spot-kick, sending Fabianski the wrong way.

But the Blues lead lasted only three minutes. Soucek wasn’t to be denied on this occasion – heading home at the far post after another decent delivery from Bowen.

And six minutes after the break, the cat was well and truly set amongst the pigeons. Chelsea’s defending was questionable – Bowen centred low from the right – Antonio on hand to fire home from close range.

Manuel Lanzini perhaps should have added a third, sending his effort over after Bowen again has caused the Blues problems. But Chelsea, by now, were otherwise tossing the proverbial kitchen sink forward in a bid to salvage the contest – the Hammers goal leading a charmed life as Pulisic’s header was hooked clear.

But West Ham was to buckle. Willian brilliantly added his second of the evening – curling a dead-ball attempt in via an upright after Declan Rice had felled the busy Pulisic.

West Ham wasn’t finished. In the final minute, Antonio fashioned an opening for Yarmolenko – the Ukrainian steadying himself before supplying a cool finish low beyond Kepa’s outstretched right glove.

With the Hammers support – understandably ecstatic at home in front of the telly – a passionate roar from the West Ham players and staff echoed around the empty stadium at full-time. This was a big three points, but there’s still plenty for Moyes’s men to do as they look to secure their Premier League future over the coming weeks.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, July 5 when they take on Newcastle United at St James Park (2pm).

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell Manuel Lanzini (Jack Wilshire 68’), Jarrod Bowen (Andriy Yarmolenko 78’), Pablo Fornals (Fabian Balbuena 90+3′), Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks, Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice (Capt) Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Felipe Anderson, Albian Ajeti, Xande Silva, Alfie Lewis, Ben Johnson

Booked: Manuel Lanzini (foul), Declan Rice (foul)
Goals: Tomas Soucek 45+2’, Michail Antonio 51’, Andriy Yamolenko 90’

Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley (Ruben Loftus-Cheek 63’), Tammy Abraham (Olivier Giroud 63’), Willian, Mateo Kovacic (Mason Mount 53’), Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta (Capt) Subs not used: Willy Caballero (GK), Jorginho, Kurt Zouma, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Billy Gilmour

Booked: Willian (foul)
Goals: Willian (penalty) 42’, 72’

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts and Harry Lennard
Fourth official: Graham Scott

Reaction to follow…

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]