Ben Chilwell proved to be a super sub for Chelsea as they came from behind to beat London rivals West Ham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.
Chilwell equalised in the 76th minute, to cancel out Michail Antonio’s opener just after the hour mark, and then turned provider for Kai Havertz’s winning goal two minutes from time.
But the Blues still had to survive a late Hammers rally, with the visitors convinced they had levelled the game at 2-2 late on through Maxwel Cornet after Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy had weakly palmed the ball away having dived a the feet of Jarrod Bowen.
But Cornet’s effort was ruled out after a VAR check ruled Bowen’s trailing leg on Mendy a foul in the build-up.
The second-half action was a far cry from a dull opening 45 minutes in west London, where Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana starting just three days after his reported £70 million ($81.3 million) move from Leicester.
But the match eventually sparked into life in the 62nd minute when Antonio scored from close range shortly after Mendy failed to punch clear from a West Ham corner.
Declan Rice collected the loose ball and squared to Antonio who only had to nudge the ball across the line.
But with Chelsea facing the prospect of a third defeat in six matches, Chilwell — sent on by Blues manager Thomas Tuchel with 18 minutes left to play — turned the game in the hosts’ favour.
Thiago Silva’s pass split the West Ham defence but left Chilwell with plenty to do. But the substitute still headed the ball on to himself and then spun clear before shotting through the legs of Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Cornet should have put West Ham back in front with his first touch off the bench, but he headed against the post with Mendy beaten.
Chelsea immediately made the Hammers pay for that miss, sprinting up to the other end where Chilwell’s low cross found Havertz, who tapped home to make it 2-1.
Moments later, Cornet seemed to have made amends for his earlier miss only for VAR to deny him a goal to the evident disgust of Hammers manager David Moyes.