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West Ham 1-1 Chelsea: Felix nets on return but Blues held to third straight draw in London derby



(Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Chelsea were held to a point against West Ham United at the London Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.

The visitors got off to a quick start against their London rivals, Joao Felix had an early strike ruled out for offside, but it was not long before he got on the scoresheet.

Enzo Fernandez’s superb delivery picked out Felix who fired past Lukasz Fabianski to give Chelsea the lead, the Blues continued to control the play, and looked the more likely to add to the scoresheet, but it was West Ham who struck next.

A relatively poor cross was put in by Vladimir Coufal, but after a flick from Jarrod Bowen it drifted towards the far post, where Italian left-back and former Chelsea player Emerson levelled the contest.

It was an exciting first 45 minutes, and although the Blues were largely in control, the teams went into the break level.

In the second half, the action was not quite as frantic, Chelsea still had the bulk of possession, but were struggling to find any openings.

Late on in the second half, it seemed as though Graham Potter’s side were going to come away with nothing, but Tomas Soucek’s goal was ruled out for offside.

There was yet more drama to come though, Conor Gallagher’s effort deflected off of Soucek’s hand, and despite the Chelsea players outrage, nothing was given.

The Blues made three changes to the side that were held to a draw at Stamford Bridge against Fulham last week with Felix returning to the team after suspension and Noni Madueke making his full debut.

It was a positive start from the visitors, after having the bulk of possession, they aimed to capitalise early on, Portuguese forward Felix had the ball in the back of the net in the opening moments but was called offside.

14 minutes into proceedings, West Ham’s Brazilian playmaker, Lucas Paqueta, was withdrawn. He went down in the first few minutes and suffered a shoulder injury, despite trying to play on, he could not continue.

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For the Hammers, things got worse just two minutes later, a sublime delivery from the Premier League’s record signing, Fernandez, picked out Felix who calmly slotted an effort past a helpless Lukasz Fabianski.

The goal was superbly worked and this time the 23-year-old did have his first goal since joining Graham Potter’s side on loan in January.

Just five minutes later, Chelsea nearly had another, Mykhailo Mudryk played a crafty pass to send Kai Havertz in behind, the German rounded the Polish keeper and tucked away the chance, celebrations were once again cut short though as the offside flag was raised.

Despite such a sharp start from the west London side, the momentum of the game was spun on its head when Emerson snuck in at the back post to level the score.

A lapse in concentration from Chelsea, saw Bowen’s flick on from a Vladimir Coufal cross run to the Champions League winner and former Blue, who guided his strike past Kepa Arrizabalga.

The goal lifted the home crowd, but the visitors were the next to create a good chance, Madueke saw his curling effort palmed away by Fabianski to keep it tied.

READ MORE: Chelsea confirm Thiago Silva’s contract extension until June 2024

In the 40th minute the veteran keeper was tested again, Felix looked to double his tally from a free-kick in a dangerous position but his shot was pushed behind the post.

From the corner that followed, a big chance fell the way of Benoit Badiashile, he was unmarked and had a free header but could only direct the opportunity over the bar.

Despite largely dominating the play and the chances, Chelsea headed into the half-time break level with West Ham.

There were no changes made by either side during the interval, and the second half started in a more balanced fashion.

The first real opening came when a Reece James delivery from a free-kick nearly creeped in at the far post after a deflection.

Opportunities for both sides in the first 20 minutes were few and far between, which saw Potter and David Moyes opt to make some substitutions.

For the hosts, Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio were replaced by Flynn Downes and Danny Ings, for the Blues, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount came on for Mudryk, Marc Cucurella and Madueke.

Left-back, Chilwell, quickly got himself involved in the contest, he put in a teasing cross that saw Havertz connect, but he could only flash his header wide of the goal.

In the 82nd minute, it looked as though the hosts had snatched all three points, a fine Kepa save from a Rice header fell into the path of Soucek who fired into an empty net.

There was however, a lengthy VAR check, and eventually it was deemed that Rice was in an offside position which saw the goal chalked off.

Following this, there was yet more controversy, substitute Gallagher had his effort on goal blocked by Soucek’s hand, after a VAR check nothing was given, leaving the Blues in disbelief.

Ultimately, the two sides could not be separated and now focus will turn to the Champions League and Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea.