Substitute Kai Havertz scored a late winner as Chelsea came from behind to record a dramatic victory over West Ham, who had a 90th-minute Maxwel Cornet equaliser ruled out.
The Hammers frustrated Chelsea in a first half that saw plenty of home possession but no shots on target for either side, and looked to have executed their game plan to perfection when Michail Antonio scored from a rare attack after 62 minutes.
The forward bundled in from close range after Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy failed to deal with a corner, but the visitors’ lead was wiped out 14 minutes later.
Chelsea, on the back of a record summer of spending and with £70m arrival Wesley Fofana making his debut, had struggled to break down David Moyes’ side before Ben Chilwell snuck in to level from a tight angle shortly after coming off the bench.
It sparked a frantic finish, with Cornet almost winning it late on for the visitors, only to see his header come back off the post and the Blues immediately score themselves through a clinical Havertz header from Chilwell’s cross.
There was still time for more drama as Cornet pounced, but only after a foul on Mendy that was awarded once referee Andrew Madley consulted the pitchside monitor.
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Fofana was handed his debut after arriving from Leicester City for £70m in a side that also included statement signings Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella and Raheem Sterling.
However, it needed two players bought in the previous two summers to spark Chelsea into life at Stamford Bridge after falling behind to a scrappy Antonio opener.
First Chilwell – jostling for that left-sided spot with Cucurella – showed his class with a smart touch and neat finish from a narrow angle to pull the hosts level with 14 minutes remaining, and it was the England international who then provided the cross for Havertz to put Tuchel’s side in front in the 88th minute.
That good work was almost wiped out when Cornet found the roof of the net after another mix-up in the Chelsea defence, and there were relieved faces in the Blues side when the verdict was a foul on goalkeeper Mendy in the build-up.
It was a dramatic ending to what, for an hour, had been a dull affair.
Christian Pulisic has been used sparingly this season, though his USA boss Gregg Berhalter has tipped the winger to “prove everyone wrong”, and he had the game’s first shot in the 27th minute that deflected wide for a Chelsea corner, though neither side managed to hit the target until almost the hour mark.
That was a delightful volley from Bowen that forced Mendy into a save, and from the resulting corner came the goal – Mendy failed to deal with a flick-on, Declan Rice knocked it back across goal and Antonio nudged in from close range.
Tuchel was aggrieved, feeling there was a foul on his goalkeeper, but he was happy with the resilience his side showed, and the quality Chelsea could bring off the bench to turn the encounter in their favour is a sign of the strength in depth the lavishly assembled Blues now possess.
It gives Chelsea their third win of the season and takes them to fifth, while West Ham sit 18th.
‘A ridiculously bad decision’
It has taken a while for West Ham to get going this season but a win at Aston Villa and a well-earned point against Tottenham have given Moyes’ side some belief, and the visitors will feel they should also have taken something from Stamford Bridge.
A disciplined display kept Chelsea at bay for the most part and, had Cornet turned his late header inside the post rather than against it, the Hammers would likely have been leaving with three points.
It was a Cornet strike that did find the net that left Moyes furious, though, with Bowen adjudged to have caught goalkeeper Mendy before the ball fell to his team-mate.
“The goalkeeper comes to take it, and actually fumbles it out of his hands five or six yards, so he could never recover it,” said Moyes. “Then he acted as if he had a shoulder injury. I’m amazed that VAR sent the referee to see it.
“It was a ridiculously bad decision. I’d question VAR as much as the referee, but the referee should have stuck to his own guns – there is no excuse for that not to be a goal, none whatsoever. The sad thing is this is the level of the weak refereeing at the moment.
“I think the worst thing is we’re sitting and watching it. We’ve been told there would be more contact. But that sounds as if there’s no contact with any goalies, and we didn’t get told that.”
Moyes, who also accused Mendy of trying to “fake an injury” when West Ham scored the opening goal, said he was “embarrassed” for VAR official Jarred Gillett.
“Jarrod [Bowen] said he never touched the goalkeeper at all,” he added. “And if you look at it, he jumps him. There might have been a trailing foot if there was anything at all.
“I make loads of mistakes, referees can make loads of mistakes, but I would hope if the referee made a mistake that’s why it’s corrected by VAR.”