Report and free match highlights as Chelsea are held to a third consecutive draw by West Ham; Joao Felix's opener was cancelled out by Emerson Palmieri; Graham Potter's side denied a late penalty despite Tomas Soucek's apparent handball
Monday 13 February 2023 14:53, UK
Chelsea were controversially denied a late penalty as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham at the London Stadium to leave their top-four hopes hanging by a thread.
Conor Gallagher's low shot struck Tomas Soucek on the hand as the West Ham midfielder slid across in an attempt to make a block in the 88th minute, but referee Craig Pawson waved away their appeals and there was no intervention from VAR.
Earlier, Graham Potter's new-look side had started strongly and looked like they might subject the hosts to a punishing afternoon when January signings Enzo Fernandez and Joao Felix combined for the latter's first Chelsea goal (16) on his return from suspension.
But West Ham weathered the early storm and capitalised on poor Chelsea defending when Jarrod Bowen flicked on Vladimir Coufal's cross, allowing the unmarked Emerson to turn home at the far post (28) against his former side.
Sue Smith on Soccer Saturday:
"I have no idea why this wasn't given as a penalty. The only thing I can think of is, as the player is falling to the ground, the player is putting his hand down to support himself.
"But Soucek blatantly puts his hand out to stop the ball. It's the most obvious penalty you will see. I'm really surprised that wasn't given."
Chelsea, held to goalless draws in their previous two games, once again struggled to break their opponents down after that and West Ham thought they had won it late on when Soucek scored from close range, only for VAR to rule it out for offside.
But the biggest flashpoint was still to come as Chelsea were denied a penalty despite Gallagher's effort, struck from the edge of the box, clearly striking the Czech Republic midfielder on the hand, with Potter jokingly describing it as a "good save" in his post-match press conference.
The draw leaves the Blues in ninth place, nine points behind fourth-placed Newcastle, and piles more pressure on Potter. West Ham, meanwhile, remain 15th and extend their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions.
West Ham: Fabianski (7), Kehrer (7), Ogbonna (7), Aguerd (7), Coufal (7), Rice (7), Paqueta (6), Emerson (8), Bowen (7), Antonio (6), Benrahma (6).
Subs: Soucek (6), Downes (6), Ings (6), Johnson (6).
Chelsea: Kepa (6), James (7), Badiashile (7), Thiago Silva (7), Cucurella (6), Fernandez (7), Loftus-Cheek (7), Madueke (6), Mudryk (6), Havertz (6), Felix (8).
Subs: Ziyech (6), Chilwell (6), Mount (6), Gallagher (6).
Player of the match: Joao Felix
Chelsea came into the game having failed to score in over three hours of Premier League action but it looked like they might finally have clicked in the early stages at the London Stadium.
In fact, Felix had already had the ball in the net once before his opener, seeing an effort ruled out for offside having raced onto a through-ball soon after West Ham's Lucas Paqueta had suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Paqueta was duly substituted for Soucek and Chelsea's breakthrough came soon after the enforced change, Felix finding himself with time and space to convert from Fernandez's teasing cross.
Chelsea looked like they might run away with it at that point, their new-look front line of Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and Kai Havertz combining dangerously as Fernandez pulled the strings from the base of midfield.
Havertz had another goal ruled out for offside after finishing smartly from Mudryk's reverse pass, but West Ham hung on and then punished slack Chelsea defending to level when Emerson popped up at the far post to score against his former club.
West Ham had gone close shortly before that, when Michail Antonio's flicked effort from Bowen's cross was blocked by Kepa Arrizabalaga, but Chelsea then created a series of other chances before the break, with Madueke forcing a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski.
Rather than pick up where they left off, however, Chelsea's attacking threat faded badly, with Felix unable to replicate his influential first-half showing and West Ham growing in stature.
Potter's side created a couple of half-chances, with a Reece James free-kick flashing wide off the top of Antonio's head, and Havertz heading wide from a centre by substitute Ben Chilwell.
But West Ham held firm and the London Stadium erupted in celebration when Soucek bundled home from a free kick after Declan Rice's initial effort had been saved, only for a lengthy VAR check to correctly rule the goal out for offside.
There was no such VAR check for Chelsea, however, when Gallagher's effort struck the hand of Soucek, referee Pawson waving play on and forcing Potter and his players to once again settle for a point.
Chelsea head coach Graham Potter on Soucek's handball: "It was a good save - you need your goalkeeper to help get you the points.
"It hasn't been given so there is nothing for me to say. If it was given, it wouldn't have been overturned but it hasn't been given.
"It looked a handball to me. I didn't know Tomas [Soucek] could get down that quickly to make a save like that. It's a good stop from him.
"It's not for me to say about VAR. They are human beings. When there is a different human being in the room, so every single decision and action means you won't get the same one again.
"It's very hard to get consistency. Some go for you, some don't. You have to accept that."
Of Chelsea's performance, he added: "I felt today was a step forward performance-wise. We started the game well. You are always rocked by the goal as that's football - we must learn from that.
"We've had a good training week but when you don't get the three points there is stuff you can do better."
|Felix (3), Emerson (2), Fernandez (1)
Felix looked like a man making up for lost time in the first half. The Portuguese international had waited long enough, after all. More than a month had elapsed since his red card against Fulham on his debut.
Felix was outstanding in that game, at least he was before the moment of madness that earned him his three-match suspension, and he picked up where he left off against West Ham, finding space between the lines and wreaking havoc early on.
There was slick combination play with Mykhailo Mudryk on the left and he popped up on the opposite flank too, feeding team-mates and at times running in behind West Ham's defence himself.
His goal was smartly taken, finished first time from Enzo Fernandez's diagonal cross, and he had the ball in the net before that too, only for the offside flag to deny him on that occasion.
His influence waned in the second half, the 23-year-old perhaps still needing to adapt to the intensity of the Premier League, but overall he showed enough to make him the game's outstanding performer, his importance reflected in the fact that Potter kept him on until the end as others were withdrawn.
Chelsea's sluggish second-half performance showed familiar issues under the head coach. Their top-four hopes continue to fade. But Felix's performance was a bright spot. He is sure to be central to any upturn in form.
West Ham boss David Moyes said: "I've got to give great credit to the boys for coming from behind.
"We didn't look right [at the start] and I have to say early on that Declan Rice played with a virus today, which you could probably see in his performance, his level was a little below where he'd normally be, but after 20 minutes I'd have shook your hand and taken a draw after the way we started.
"Defensively we weren't good today, but the only thing was we kept ourselves in it. We didn't concede a second goal, which would have made it difficult to get back.
"We worked our way into the game, it took us 20 or 30 minutes to get into the game, but as it went on I thought we got a bit better.
"In the second half especially we gave them more of a game and it was a bit more for sharing after half-time."
On the Soucek handball, he said: "I've not seen it."
West Ham have another London derby next weekend when they visit Tottenham on Sunday 19 February; kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports.
Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 15 February - kick-off 8pm - before they host Southampton back in the Premier League on Saturday 18 February; kick-off 3pm.