The Blues were beaten in cruel circumstances at Upton Park this afternoon having had to play the whole second half with 10 men.
After West Ham had taken an early lead through Mauro Zarate, Kurt Zouma’s header looked to have crossed the line, only for the decision to go the home side’s way, before Cesc Fabregas beat Adrian but saw the goal ruled out for offside when he appeared to have been played onside by the retreating West Ham defenders. Nemanja Matic was then sent off on the stroke of the break for a second bookable offence.
The 10 men rallied impressively however and were the better side in the second half. Gary Cahill equalised 10 minutes after the break with his first goal of the season, but Andy Carroll’s late header, which came against the run of play, won it for the hosts.
Jose Mourinho named an unchanged side for the first time since last November, sticking with the team which drew in Kiev in midweek.
Willian, Fabregas and Eden Hazard made up the attacking trio playing just behind lone striker Diego Costa.
Victor Moses, on loan at West Ham from Stamford Bridge, was ineligible to feature for the hosts.
The opening few minutes of the game were played out in the midfield area, but in the eighth minute a well-worked move presented us with our first sight of goal.
Willian and Fabregas combined well and the Spaniard’s smart ball over the top of the West Ham back four allowed Diego Costa to get in behind. It sat up nicely for the striker but, under pressure and from a slight angle, he fired well over the bar.
Moments later we turned defence into attack with a brilliant counter, owing much to the intelligence and desire of Matic, who dispossessed Dimitri Payet on the edge of our box and carried the ball into the West Ham half. Willian took it on and burst down the right-hand side but his cross, intended for Diego Costa, was cleared away at the front post.
It took until the 16th minute for Slaven Bilic’s side to threaten, and Asmir Begovic did well to push Payet’s curling free-kick over the bar.
From the resulting corner, however, West Ham took the lead.
The Blues were unable to clear our lines as the delivery was swung in, and as the ball found its way to Zarate at the back post he drilled it low and hard past Begovic.
We looked to hit back immediately but after Hazard released Fabregas, who worked his way into the penalty area well, the midfielder’s pass into Diego Costa had too much pace on it and West Ham managed to get it away.
After some patient build-up play Ramires then blasted over the bar from 25 yards, while Willian forced Adrian into a good save low down to his right with a free-kick from just outside the box. The response after conceding had undoubtedly been a positive one.
It looked as though our pressure had paid off 11 minutes before the break when Zouma rose to meet a Fabregas corner. The Frenchman’s header beat Adrian and, as Lanzini attempted to hook the ball off the line, it bounced off his hip and appeared to cross the line.
The decision, though, went the home side’s way and as Cheikhou Kouyate burst through midfield at pace he was pulled back by Matic, who earned a yellow card.
West Ham were next to go close and, in truth, it was an opportunity which should have led to a second goal. The ball was worked from right to left, eventually finding its way to Lanzini, who was clean through on goal. Begovic raced off his line to narrow the angle, forcing the West Ham man to go for a chip which thankfully dropped over the bar.
Yet another quick break presented us with a golden opportunity to equalise moments later. Willian did brilliantly to win it back in our own half and advance deep into West Ham territory. The numbers were in our favour with both Diego Costa and Fabregas making intelligent runs. Willian switched it to Fabregas who took one touch and drilled his strike past Adrian, but the offside flag had been raised against him and the goal was ruled out.
Replays indicated it was an extremely close call.
If that decision was a disappointing one, however, the referee’s next call was even more significant as the Blues were reduced to 10 men. Matic, who had already been booked, challenged Diafra Sakho out wide on the right. Initially only a free-kick was awarded West Ham’s way, but after consulting the linesman the Serbian was shown a second yellow card. Both Diego Costa and Fabregas were then booked in the aftermath, and assistant first team coach Silvino Louro was dismissed, as the first half ended on a sour note for the Blues.
With the team a goal down, and a man down, Mourinho changed it tactically by introducing John Mikel Obi for Fabregas at half-time. The Nigerian slotted in alongside Ramires, with Hazard and Willian supporting Diego Costa in attack.
Mourinho failed to appear in the dugout at the start of the second half and it later emerged he had been sent to the stands.
Ten minutes after the break, and with the first real opportunity of the half, we were back in the game.
Willian’s corner was knocked down by Zouma, who was proving a real handful at set-pieces, and as the loose ball bobbled around inside the West Ham penalty area, Cahill produced a magnificent finish, firing first-time past Adrian to spark jubilant scenes behind the goal where the travelling Chelsea fans were packed in.
It was Cahill’s first goal of the season, and what a time to get it.
Begovic saved from Zarate as the hosts looked to quickly restore their advantage, while at the other end Diego Costa almost latched on to an under-hit back-pass from Mark Noble.
It was an extremely bright start to the second half by the Blues, and anybody tuning into the game late would have struggled to work out which team were playing with a one-man advantage.
Zouma, once again looking assured at right-back, did well to get a block in on Payet, and West Ham made their first substitution of the game with 22 minutes left to play, replacing Zarate with Carroll.
It was a switch which would pay dividends for the home side very quickly, as Carroll headed them back in front with 11 minutes left to play.
Cresswell supplied the cross from wide on the left-hand side and Carroll rose highest and steered his header beyond Begovic.
It was harsh on the Blues, who had more than held their own despite the numerical disadvantage.
Falcao and Baba Rahman were introduced in the closing stages as we attempted to rescue something from the game, with the striker unfortunate not to get on the end of a Willian cross.
The Brazilian then swung in a teasing free-kick as the game entered added time but again West Ham were able to get it away.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Zouma, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta (Baba 87); Ramires (Falcao 81), Matic; Willian, Fabregas (Mikel h-t), Hazard; Diego Costa.
Unused subs: Amelia, Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Traore.
Scorer Cahill 55
Booked Azpilicueta 24, Matic 35, Diego Costa 45+1, Fabregas 45+1, Willian 81, Mikel 90+4
Sent off Matic 44
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Collins, Cresswell; Noble (c) (Ogbonna 90+1), Kouyate; Zarate (Carroll 68), Lanzini (Obiang 81), Payet; Sakho.
Unused subs: Randolph, Valencia, Obiang, Ogbonna, Jelavic, Antonio.
Scorers Zarate 17, Carroll 79
Booked Kouyate 73
Referee Jonathan Moss