Chelsea were beaten by a late VAR-awarded goal at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard’s side struggled to break through a resilient Bournemouth defence.
Much like our recent defeat to West Ham, we dominated possession but failed to create enough clear-cut chances to pose serious problems to the visitors. Mason Mount had our best opportunity of the first half, which was saved well by the visiting goalkeeper, and Emerson Palmieri was similarly thwarted from close range with a header in the second period.
Bournemouth posed problems on the break after the restart but their winner came from a recycled set-piece eight minutes from time. Dan Gosling was initially ruled offside as he lifted the ball over Kepa and that raised linesman’s flag, against Premier League directives, may well have affected some in the box.
Cesar Azpilicueta desperately attempted to clear the ball off the line but the video technology ruled the goal should stand and that condemned Chelsea to defeat.
Mount in for Mateo Kovacic was the only change from our midweek Champions League win against Lille, with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante the other midfield players selected. Captain Azpilicueta started to make his 250th Premier League appearance for the club.
Further back, fit-again Toni Rudiger continued at centre-back alongside Kurt Zouma and the defensive duo were forced into a couple of early aerial interventions in their 18-yard box as Bournemouth made a decent start.
Kepa was also worked inside the opening five minutes, saving down low to his right from Ryan Fraser as the Scotsman skipped infield from the left and drilled a shot towards the near post.
Slowly, the Chelsea probing started and Jorginho fashioned a sight at goal for Mount with a deft first-time pass that paired vision with craft. The England international took the ball down on his chest and fired at goal but Aaron Ramsdale, the Cherries keeper, was out quickly to deny him with an outstretched save.
Emerson then advanced down the left and into the Bournemouth box, though his effort nicked off Simon Francis, taking the sting out of the strike and providing Ramsdale with a routine catch.
The Blues had relative control of the contest but were lacking the necessary tempo and intensity to put their visitors under any sustained pressure. There were flashes of inventiveness though, as Kante and Azpilicueta combined down the inside-right channel to provide a crossing opportunity for the Spaniard.
Tammy Abraham darted towards the front post and swung his right foot to meet the delivery but our top scorer could only ripple the side-netting.
Eddie Howe’s side had lost five straight games coming into this one so their cautious approach was hardly surprisingly. It asked a familiar question of Lampard’s men at home this season; whether they could turn the lion’s share of possession into decent chances and, ultimately, goals.
However, the stops from Mount and Emerson were the only saves Ramsdale was forced to make in the first 45 minutes. There were last-ditch clearances and blocks in the box, while Christian Pulisic could not quite stretch high enough to make the requisite contact to Willian’s deep cross at the back post.
Abraham, who had been on the move throughout, finally got another chance in stoppage time when Willian swung in a corner from the right but our number nine’s header was firmly over the crossbar.
It was Bournemouth who conjured the next best chance early after the restart as Josh King escaped in behind on the break. The Norway international was tracked all the way by Rudiger, though his heavy first touch was part of the reason why the defender was able to recover and marshal the ball from danger.
The visitors have proved something of a bogey team to us over recent years – only Liverpool have won at the Bridge more times than the Cherries since their Premier League promotion in 2015 – and those familiar frustrations were back again in west London.
Willian could not beat the wall with a well-positioned free-kick on the hour, while Pulisic was thwarted by a timely deflection to divert the ball behind after moving dangerously towards goal from the right.
Corners caused frequent problems for the men in red and black, although a combination of good fortune and good positioning continued to keep us at bay. Zouma was the latest denied with a quick-fire shot blocked at close range.
The Frenchman was then put to the test down the other end as Bournemouth’s pacey attackers looked to steal a smash-and-grab three points on the counter-attack. King was the primary protagonist, latching on to a ball dropped between our goalkeeper and back four, but Zouma was there with a crucial toe-in to poke the chance away.
At the three-quarter mark of the game, another opportunity fell the way of the visitors as King once again pierced at the heart of our defence. Azpilicueta was the man to deny him with a last-ditch tackle on this occasion, with the loose ball narrowly evading Fraser in the centre.
The best Chelsea chance of the afternoon fell to Emerson with 18 minutes remaining after a frantic rally of head tennis in the opposition six-yard box. The ball dropped invitingly for the left-back four yards out but he couldn’t place his header either side of Ramsdale and the keeper made a point-blank stop to keep the scores level.
Abraham saw a header flash narrowly wide following Azpilicueta’s cross before the Blues were hit with the late sucker-punch as the Cherries snatched the win. It was late VAR drama at the Bridge again that decided the outcome as the second phase of a corner initially cleared proved our undoing.
Jefferson Lerma recycled the ball back into the box with a looping header and, despite the linesman’s flag going up, Gosling played on to hook the ball over Kepa and over the line despite the desperate efforts of Azpilicueta to clear. Initially ruled out by the on-field officials, the technology both deemed Gosling onside and the ball over the line.
There was no late rally, only a stoppage-time strike at goal from substitute Kovacic that Ramsdale scooped away to safety, and with that the points were secured. A week to recover for the Blues now before a big game ahead at Tottenham next Sunday.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, Zouma, Emerson; Jorginho (Batshuayi 78), Kante; Willian (Hudson-Odoi 65), Mount, Pulisic (Kovacic 65); Abraham
Unused subs Caballero, Christensen, James, Pedro
Booked Kovacic 81
Bournemouth Ramsdale; Stacey, Francis (c), Mepham, Rico; Billing, Lerma, L Cook, Gosling; Fraser, King (Solanke 75)
Unused subs Boruc, Simpson, Surman, Kilkenny, Dobre, Stanislas
Scorer Gosling 82
Booked L Cook 50; Gosling 82
Referee Graham Scott