LONDON (Reuters) - A 48th-minute goal from Aaron Cresswell earned West Ham United a surprise 1-0 victory at Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, their first win since September easing pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Cresswell latched on to a pass from Pablo Fornais and cut inside Chelsea’s 19-year-old defender Reece James before shooting into the far corner past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It was West Ham’s second real chance of the game after a 25th-minute effort from Michail Antonio, whose point-blank header was well parried by Arrizabalaga.
West Ham’s had not enjoyed victory at Stamford Bridge since 2002 and the win lifted them to 13th in the standings. Chelsea remained fourth but look shaky after two Premier League defeats in a row.
Until the goal Frank Lampard’s side, though appearing a little off the pace after their breathless 2-2 draw with Valencia in the Champions League, had looked the more likely to score.
But they huffed and puffed round the West Ham goal without producing the decisive strike. James went closest when his deflected shot hit the outside of the post in the 23rd minute.
“I think we were not clinical, we need to be more clinical when we create the chances. We weren’t and then we conceded. Then it is difficult,” match captain Jorginho said.
Lampard, who moved from West Ham to Chelsea as a player, said his side had endured a taxing game in Spain and a late flight home, so he needed to make five changes.
“I still believe in the squad. I think we’ve shown some great things this season. But we played below par today. It’s time for a bit of character and see our reaction for Aston Villa (on Wednesday),” he told reporters.
“We did not do enough in the final third I think that’s been the story in the last three games.”
West Ham had a goal ruled out by VAR in the 69th minute for handball by Antonio but held on to record their first league away win since August.
Before the game, Chilean Pellegrini had looked in danger of becoming the third London Premier League manager this month to lose his job after Tottenham Hotspur dismissed Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal sacked Unai Emery.
“For me the most difficult thing this week was not about my future or about the job, it was to convince the players not to change, that we were doing the right thing,” Pellegrini said.
West Ham goalkeeper David Martin, whose father played for the club, made his debut on Saturday aged 33 and was in tears at the end.
“It still doesn’t feel real. I’m just pleased got through it, I didn’t let anyone down and actually I enjoyed it in the end,” he told the BBC.
“My dad didn’t say much - I think we were both in tears. For my dad to play for the club for 21 years and see it, and for me to make my debut, keep clean sheet and get win for the boys, it is so pleasing.”
Reporting by Clare Lovell, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge