West Ham United have defeated Chelsea 2-1 at the London Stadium to progress into the quarter-final stage of the EFL Cup.
A goal in either half from Cheikhou Kouyate and Edimilson Fernandes was enough to earn the Hammers a big victory on home soil, putting an end to their opponents’ impressive recent run.
Visiting boss Antonio Conte stuck with his favoured 3-4-3 formation, which has brought him so much joy of late, but the Blues failed to take their big first-half chances as their three-match winning run came to an end on enemy territory.
An end-to-end opening to the game signalled what was to come, with the first shot of the explosive first half arriving seven minutes in when N’Golo Kante powered his way into the box only to be denied by Darren Randolph.
It was the Hammers who took the lead soon after, though, as a corner was not fully dealt with by the visitors which allowed Mark Noble to cross for Kouyate, who somehow generated enough pace and power on the ball to beat Asmir Begovic from his header from just inside the box.
West Ham pushed on from that early breakthrough goal and so nearly had a second with 14 minutes on the clock, but Michail Antonio sent his shot wide after Dimitri Payet had a penalty appeal rejected when seemingly brought down by Kante.
Both sides were creating good openings at either end – Nathaniel Chalobah seeing his shot tipped over the bar by Randolph and Antonio being denied in a slightly more straightforward fashion by Begovic.
Slaven Bilic promised to send out a strong starting lineup this evening, which he more than stuck to by making minimal alterations from last time out, though one of those changes did see the only recognised forward drop out of the team.
As a result, Antonio, Payet and Manuel Lanzini were each drifting around in the final third, with the former of that trio causing all sorts of problems as he turned David Luiz and sent in a cross which Payet somehow poked wide.
There was a rare start for Michy Batshuayi at the other end of the field, but he was having less joy as he fired in his only shot of the first half right down the throat of Randolph, before West Ham stepped things up and again tested Begovic through Payet and Fernandes strikes.
The frenetic first half showed no signs of slowing there, either, with Pedro Obiang blasting a half-volley on target from 30 yards out which Begovic did very well to get across and keep out, while Batshuayi and Oscar both came close themselves in the final throes of the half.
West Ham bagged themselves a second just three minutes into the second half thanks to Fernandes – the midfielder cutting in from the left and placing the ball just out of Begovic’s reach, moments after the Bosnian had denied Payet with another impressive stop at his front post.
Conte was then forced into action, sensing the game slipping away from him and turning to two of his big hitters – Diego Costa coming on for the disappointing Batshuayi and Eden Hazard replacing Chalobah with plenty of time to go.