Blues salvage a point with Hammers
Written By: Robert Halter
East met West London as West Ham United visited Chelsea mid March. On eight minutes from a through ball by Cesc Fabregas, a first time shot by Loic Remy was pushed away by the outstretched left foot of Hammers shot stopper, Adrian. Two minutes later from Dimitri Payet’s corner, a soft header by Michail Antonio was caught by Thibaut Courtois. But it was the Irons that struck first on seventeen minutes, after John Obi Mikel’s attempt to win a tackle on Payet, only put the ball into the path of Manuel Lanzini, who from outside the area sent a curling strike bending into the right side of the goal past a helpless Courtois. Five minutes later, a looping header from Branislav Ivanovic was spurned wide from a Fabregas delivery. But on twenty two minutes, a ball across by West Ham captain, Mark Noble, was met with a low drive by Payet, which went fractions wide of Courtois’s near post. Two minutes on, a well driven corner by Payet, cannoned off the head of Cheikhou Kouyate, but went past the target. Then on twenty nine minutes, from a ball over the top by Fabregas, a backward header from Remy, fell comfortably into the reach of Adrian. Although on the half hour mark, after Diafra Sakho started the move and from a back heel by Valenica, the ball was driven across the face of goal by Aaron Cresswell. But after Kenedy was left worse for wear after his face was mauled by a clumsy challenge on him by Kouyate, a free kick by Willian, drifted past the left post in the fortieth minute. However just before the break, Winston Reid pushed down Oscar and a magnificent free kick by Fabregas, bent into the left corner, as the ball dipped past a silhouette Adrian. Before the re-start, Pedro replaced the injured Kenedy. But the warning signs were there for the Blues, as captain John Terry had to hook away a dangerous ball over from Payet, a minute into the second half. But on forty nine minutes, a long range pass from Ivanovic picked out Oscar, but he lost his footing in shooting range at the left post. In the further two minutes, after Kouyate brought down Willian, a floating free kick by Fabregas was met with a Terry header that was punched clear from Adrian. Although on fifty six minutes, after an incisive pass from Sakho, a well struck effort by Cresswell cannoned against the underside of the crossbar before Sakho was replaced by Andy Carroll. But on the hour mark, after build up play by Pedro, a curling strike by Remy was kept out at full stretch from Adrian. The Irons went back in front a minute later, as the ball was slid through from Payet, into the path of Carroll, who drove the ball past Courtois. Bertrand Traore then took over from Remy. On seventy one minutes, Angelo Ogbonna deflected behind Oscar’s strike and then Fabregas put a header over from a Willian corner. In the next three minutes from a Pedro cross, an over head kick by Fabregas soared over the upright. The Hammers then brought on Emmanuel Emenike for Valencia. Then on seventy six minutes, a Fabregas corner was headed upwards and wide by Terry. There was then an intervention by Cahill to snuff out a Payet effort. But following a second corner by Payet, a downward header from Carroll produced a strong stop by Courtois, in the seventy ninth minute. Lanzini then made way for Pedro Obiang. As Cahill miss directed a header from a Willian corner on eighty one minutes, another substitution by Chelsea saw Oscar replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek. But on eighty seven minutes from a Payet corner, a Carroll header hade to be cleared off the line by Traore, and then within a minute Traore set up Loftus-Cheek, who was pulled down by Antonio in the area and Fabregas made no mistake with his spot kick by sending Adrian the wrong way. In stoppage time following a handball by Fabregas, a bending free kick by Payet was caught with a flying save by Courtois. At the end after a foul on Pedro by Reid, a quickly taken free kick by Fabregas, found Traore before on the turn, Loftus-Cheek put the ball wide to finish a competitive draw at Stamford Bridge.