Chelsea beat West Ham United 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as goals from substitutes Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz cancelled out Michail Antonio’s opener, but they also had VAR to thank after an apparent West Ham equaliser was ruled out.
The Blues, looking to improve on their stuttering start to the season, were rocked in the 63rd minute when they failed to clear a corner and Declan Rice squared the ball for Antonio to convert on the goal line.
Thirteen minutes later the hosts were level when Chilwell squeezed between two defenders to get his head on a long forward pass by Thiago Silva and deftly angled the ball between the legs of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Havertz completed the comeback in the 88th minute when he connected with a cross by Chilwell to make it 2-1, moments after West Ham substitute Maxwel Cornet had headed against the post when he should have scored.
In the dying moments, Cornet thought he had levelled it for West Ham but his goal was ruled out after a VAR check found that Jarrod Bowen had fouled Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy, a decision West Ham disputed.
“It is a scandalous decision, absolutely rotten from one of the supposedly elite referees,” coach David Moyes told the BBC.
“I support a lot of the VAR stuff, I actually think the goalkeeper dives, he is faking an injury because he cannot get to the next one – he did the same on the first goal as well. The referee somehow gets that so wrong it is incredible.”
Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel conceded his side got lucky with the disallowed goal but said it was a correct decision.
He also said he hoped the win would kick-start Chelsea’s season.
“We take it now step by step, we will try to use this momentum,” Tuchel was quoted as saying by the BBC. “Things are clear now, we can demand full commitment to everything. We are in the middle of creating this and it is not finished.”
Tuchel made five changes after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Southampton, giving Wesley Fofana a debut in central defence, recalling Conor Gallagher after his red card a week ago against Leicester City and offering a rare start to Christian Pulisic.
But Chelsea struggled to break down West Ham’s deep defensive lines in the first half, underscoring why they rushed to sign striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona shortly before the transfer deadline on Thursday.