For match photos, scroll to photostream above left. For match stats click on the statistics tab. Manager reaction below.
Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea start as interim manager suffered a setback as West Ham United hit back to earn a 3-1 win at Upton Park. Juan Mata appeared to ease the pressure on the former Liverpool manager by ending the European champions’ five-hour, 34-minute goal drought after 13 minutes. But the visitors missed several chances to score again and paid through a Carlton Cole equaliser and goals from substitutes Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga.
There were early warning signs for Chelsea, whose defence was reshaped by David Luiz’s suspension. In the 10th minute a straight free-kick from James Collins sailed to Winston Reid, whose header across goal was scrambled to safety by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Fernando Torres was dropping into midfield to get involved with mixed results but it was the return of his striking instincts that helped Chelsea end their longest goal drought of the Roman Abramovich era. The Spaniard burst in behind onto Victor Moses’ 13th-minute through-ball and coolly cut it back for Mata to sidefoot home easily,
Chelsea could have given their supporters something else to cheer about, Moses mis-hitting his 20th-minute shot from Ramires’ pass. And after Carlton Cole - in for the injured Andy Carroll - saw a shot blocked, Ramires and Torres blew a four-on-two break, the latter skying his finish.
West Ham were also causing problems and thought they had equalised in the 33rd minute through Kevin Nolan’s close-range overhead kick but referee Martin Atkinson chalked it off for a push. Mata could have made it 2-0 in the 40th minute when he fired Moses’ cutback too close to Jussi Jaaskelainen and saw his follow-up blocked by Joey O’Brien.
The home side had the final attempt of the first half when Petr Cech was booked for punching the ball clear outside his area but the goalkeeper redeemed himself by tipping Kevin Nolan’s header over the bar from the resultant free-kick.
Sam Allardyce had seen enough by the break, sending on Matt Taylor and Diame for James Tomkins and Gary O’Neil. Both had the desired effect, Carlton Cole’s header from just inside the box sailing over before he got in the way of Diame’s effort.
Chelsea’s defending became more desperate, Branislav Ivanovic getting a vital touch to prevent Carlton Cole turning in Nolan’s pass. An equaliser looked only a matter of time and it arrived in the 63rd minute. Matt Jarvis’ cross looped up off Azpilicueta and Carlton Cole climbed above Ivanovic to nod it in.
Jarvis then tested Cech before the visitors surged down the other end, Torres scuffing a glorious rebound chance straight at Jaaskelainen after the goalkeeper had saved from Eden Hazard. Mark Noble was booked for clattering into Ramires and Mata almost added further punishment when he hit the inside of a post with a brilliant free-kick.
Moses appealed in vain for a penalty under Taylor’s challenge and Hazard failed to chip Jaaskelainen after the goalkeeper threw the ball straight to him. Oscar replaced the Belgian but West Ham were still on top and Moses soon departed for Marko Marin.
Although Chelsea enjoyed some pressure, they were almost undone when Noble sent Jarvis clear and Cech came to the rescue again. Ashley Cole did likewise from the resultant corner, nodding Reid’s header off the line but West Ham were not to be denied.
With four minutes remaining, a throw-in found its way to Carlton Cole, who laid the ball off to Diame to drill home and it got worse in stoppage time when fellow substitute Maiga followed up after Taylor’s shot was parried. Torres had the final say with a header that was saved but it was already too late.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce [to West Ham TV]: "After a reasonably comfortable opening 12 or 13 minutes, all of a sudden Chelsea went 'bang' and scored. With the quality of players that they have got, Fernando Torres made the run and cut it back to Mata and his finish was superb. I could criticise the defenders but the quality of their play was so good that it got them in front.
"With them having two clean sheets in their first two games under Rafa Benitez, I thought it would be a test for us. We seemed to lose our way and our belief after their goal so, for me, it was about hanging on until half-time and then making some changes. At half-time it was aboue re-motivating the lads and re-establishing that if they do things the right way, they will get a lot of pressure on Chelsea and exposing their defence a lot more than we had done. We did feel their defence was a weakness and has been, even though Rafa had put it right in their past two games."
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez: “In the first half we just had to score more goals. We have to improve. We know that football has two halves, the game has two halves. In the first half we had two or three chances - we just need to score more goals."
"The team had chances, not just Fernando [Torrres]. When you are attacking and you are controlling the game like we did in the first half, you have to score goals.
“If we improve on the pitch, it will be easier for everyone. It could be [tougher than I imagined] in terms of, it's a top side, it's in the middle of the season and obviously the results were not the best, so we will try improve things and it will take some times maybe. We will see.
“We have also players who are injured who will come back and they will give another character or something different. The kind of players that we have, sometimes they have to be in possession. And when you are not in possession, physically, you have to cope and manage with players who are quite strong and we didn't do it well."
"The first half we could score two or three goals, finish the game, and it would be totally different. We didn't do it. The second half, we didn't start well, they were on top of us and then we couldn't manage. It is difficult to explain when you are so good in the first half, how can you not manage in the second half?"
|09 Dec 2012||v Liverpool (H)|
|16 Dec 2012||v West Brom (A)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Everton (H)|
|29 Dec 2012||v Reading (A)|
|01 Jan 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|12 Jan 2013||v Sunderland (A)|