Chelsea 2-2 West Ham: Late Cesc Fabregas penalty denies Hammers
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 19/03/16 11:42pm
A controversial late Cesc Fabregas penalty earned Chelsea a 2-2 draw against West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
The Hammers were heading for a place in the top four until Fabregas equalised with a penalty a minute from time after Michail Antonio brought Ruben Loftus-Cheek down, but replays showed the contact was outside the area.
Manuel Lanzini had put West Ham ahead with a fine effort from range, before Fabregas equalised late in the opening period with a 25-yard free-kick.
West Ham hit the bar through Aaron Cresswell in the second half, but Andy Carroll regained their lead with his first touch just second after coming on with 25 minutes remaining.
The result leaves West Ham in fifth, a point behind Manchester City in fourth, while Chelsea stay 10th, 10 points off the top four.
The draw also makes it mathematically impossible for Chelsea to retain the Premier League title they won by eight points last term.
Chelsea made three changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Everton in the FA Cup last weekend, with John Terry returning to the starting line up.
But it was West Ham, who made three changes themselves, who took the lead after 16 minutes.
After being laid on by Dimitri Payet 25 yards from goal, Lanzini produced a superb, curling effort into the top right corner, past the despairing dive of Thibaut Courtois.
Just before the half-hour mark, Chelsea had appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Robert Madley after the ball looked to have hit Enner Valencia's hand inside the area.
It was West Ham who should have doubled their lead through Cresswell moments later, but the left-back's drive across the face of goal after being set up by Sakho on the left side of the area went just wide of Courtois' post.
The visitors looked to be going into the break ahead, but Chelsea got themselves level in controversial fashion in first-half stoppage time.
Before stepping up to take a free-kick 25 yards from goal, Fabregas rolled the ball back two yards, meaning the wall was set up behind the referee's vanishing spray 12 yards away, before the Spaniard cleared the wall and found the top corner with a fine curling effort, much to the West Ham players' dismay.
The hosts took their momentum into the second half, and came close after Branislav Ivanovic's ball across the face of goal was turned just wide at an angle by Oscar.
Cresswell was within inches of regaining West Ham's lead just before the hour mark, but struck the underside of the crossbar 12 yards out from the left side of the area.
But just seconds after coming on, Carroll put the visitors ahead. Getting on the end of Payet's pass as West Ham broke, the striker scored with his first touch, stroking the ball past Courtois from 15 yards.
One of Willian's umpteen corners found Fabregas with a clear header with 20 minutes remaining, but the midfielder could only put his effort over from eight yards.
Carroll almost got a second with 10 minutes remaining, but saw his header from eight yards from Payet's corner beaten away by Courtois, before seeing another goal-bound header from a corner cleared off the line by Bertrand Traore.
Then came the controversy, as substitute Loftus-Cheek was brought down as he ran through on goal by Antonio, but the contact looked to be outside the penalty area.
Fabregas converted with aplomb from the spot to dent the Hammers' Champions League aspirations and spare themselves another home defeat.
Soccer Saturday verdict - Charlie Nicholas
West Ham would have been disappointed not to have won the game, especially after taking the lead twice. They are such a good side to watch, particularly in the final third. Lanzini scored a stunning opener and they looked the better of the two sides.
Other than Fabregas and Willian, Chelsea offered little early on. But, after Fabregas' equaliser on half-time, Chelsea were right at it. West Ham suffered a cruel blow right at the end with Chelsea's penalty, it was harsh but it's a modern-day penalty. West Ham are still in the mix for the top four, they're a strong side and they didn't disappoint in their display today.
Chelsea: Courtois (6); Ivanovic (5), Cahill (5), Terry (5), Azpilicueta (6); Mikel (5), Fabregas (7); Willian (7), Oscar (6), Kenedy (6); Remy (6)
Subs: Loftus-Cheek (6), Pedro (6), Traore (6),
West Ham: Adrian (6), Antonio (7), Reid (6), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (7), Kouyate (6), Noble (6), Lanzini (8), Payet (7), Valencia (7), Sakho (6)
Subs: Obiang (6), Emenike (6), Carroll (7)
Man of the match: Manuel Lanzini