Chelsea tightened their grip on third place in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over 10-man West Ham United on Sunday, with Christian Pulisic’s 90th-minute winner at Stamford Bridge making up for teammate Jorginho’s missed penalty.
Substitute Pulisic arrived in the box at the right time to guide home a superb pass by Marcos Alonso shortly after Jorginho had wasted his chance from the spot, firing straight at West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
– Hamilton: Pulisic the hero as Tuchel’s changes pay off
– ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
West Ham defender Craig Dawson, one of their best players in a much-changed side, was shown a red card after a check by the Video Assistant Referee following a clumsy foul on substitute Romelu Lukaku that resulted in the penalty.
Thomas Tuchel’s side ended a run of two straight defeats at home — against Brentford and Arsenal — but it is their forward line rather than defense that will concern the manager ahead of their final few matches.
“[Tuchel] just said to make a difference; to combine and make opportunities. It feels good to be more secure in the top four,” Pulisic, who replaced Timo Werner in the 76th minute, told Sky Sports postmatch.
“We needed a win at home, and it feels great in front of our fans. We need to finish the season strong … some good league games and then a final [in the FA Cup against Liverpool]. I needed to come in and make a difference and show I want to be playing.”
Seventh-placed West Ham made six changes to their starting line-up with an eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, a competition that offers them their best chance of reaching the next season’s Champions League.
They looked on course to secure a point after N’Golo Kante’s deflected effort and Trevoh Chalobah’s rocket from distance drew saves from Fabianski, before Werner fired wide from a tight angle in the second half of a game that had few clear chances.
With the victory, Chelsea moves five points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal, with a match in hand against Mikel Arteta’s side. They can consolidate their position with a victory over struggling Manchester United on Thursday.