West Ham 0-1 Chelsea: Balbuena controversially sees red

West Ham were on the end of a questionable refereeing call
West Ham were on the end of a questionable refereeing call /

West Ham lost 1-0 to Chelsea at the London Stadium on Saturday, Timo Werner’s first goal in two months giving Chelsea all three points. The Blues have now established a three-point lead over the Hammers, who now sit just one place below them in fifth.

Team news

West Ham were without several first team stars after Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell both failed late fitness tests. As a result of the injuries, Ryan Fredericks was called up for only his fourth start of the season, while Fabian Balbuena was also called up to replace the suspended Craig Dawson.

The Hammers were also without long term absentees Declan Rice and Michail Antonio, who have both been out of action for the last three weeks.

West Ham Ryan Fredericks
West Ham pressed Ryan Fredericks into service at right-back /

West Ham miss out on fourth place after long awaited Timo Werner goal

Early pressure from Chelsea created the away side’s first chance of the game when Mason Mount pull his cross back across goal for the open Timo Werner, but the out of form striker sent his first-time effort just over Lukasz Fabianski’s goal.

The away side then had the first shot on target when Mount wriggled away from Tomas Soucek in the box and managed to get a shot away on his left foot, but his effort went straight at Fabianski, who comfortably saved.

West Ham then had their first chance of the game when Fredericks made a great marauding run down the left-hand side into the opposition’s penalty area, but his weak side let him down as his left-footed shot sailed over the crossbar.

Chelsea then had another good chance to open the scoring through Christian Pulisic was found free in West Ham’s box, but his low effort again went straight at a thankful Fabianski.

The Hammers had their best chance of the game in the 36th minute when Mark Noble’s free kick found Soucek at the back post, and the Czech’s goalbound shot was blocked on the line by Cesar Azpilicueta. At first it seemed as if the Spaniard had blocked the shot with his hand, but VAR deemed the block legal.

Despite a good spell from West Ham, it was Chelsea who struck first when Ben Chilwell’s perfect low cross into the box found Timo Werner in space, and the German striker slotted his first-time effort home to make it 0-1 to Chelsea in the 43rd minute. The goal was Werner’s first since the 15th of February and was only his sixth Premier League goal of the season.

Chelsea vs West Ham
Timo Werner scores for Chelsea against West Ham /

It was a slow start to the second half for both teams, but Chelsea had the first big chance in the 54th minute when Mount’s long-range effort forced Fabianski into making a spectacular save. However, the Polish shot stopper’s save deflected straight into the path of Werner who had the goal at his mercy; but luckily for West Ham the German international missed the target.

The Hammers then broke on the counter and had their first effort on target through Pablo Fornals but the Spaniard’s strike went straight at Edouard Mendy.

West Ham seemed to take heart from Werner’s horror miss and were pushing for an equaliser, which they nearly got through Lingard in the 60th minute when the 28-year-old’s audacious volley swerved just past Mendy’s goal.

However, West Ham’s revival was killed in the 81st minute when referee Chris Kavanagh decided to send Fabian Balbuena off for a perfectly legal challenge. Balbuena won the challenge against Chilwell and cleared the ball but caught the Chelsea left back in the follow through. There was no way the Paraguayan could have avoided the follow through, but Kavanagh still seemed set on sending the centre-back off.

The poor decision put a damper on the final ten minutes of the game and besides a last second chance from Tammy Abraham, who also missed an open goal, the game fizzled out and Thomas Tuchel’s men took all three points.

The loss means West Ham stay in fifth place in the Premier League and are now three points behind Chelsea in fourth. The Hammers now have a favourable run of fixtures, starting with Burnley away next Monday and will be looking to fight for their place in the top four.

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