Javier Hernandez rescues point for Hammers at Chelsea
Cesar Azpilicueta opened the scoring but Hernandez scored from the bench.
Javier Hernandez climbed off the bench to add to Chelsea’s frustrations by snatching a point from a 1-1 draw for West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
The Mexican striker had only been on the field for three minutes when he swept home the equaliser to cancel out Cesar Azpilicueta’s first-half opener.
Under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart, whose England World Cup spot is in jeopardy following his struggles this season, then kept Chelsea at bay with some fine saves as West Ham held on grimly for another point to put towards their survival bid.
Blues boss Antonio Conte cut an irritated figure on the touchline as his faltering champions saw another two points slip away, having won just three times in the Premier League since the turn of the year.
With their chances of a top-four finish disappearing further into the distance Chelsea are now playing like a team who would rather that an underwhelming season would just come to an end.
Yet after warm tributes were paid to former Blues skipper Ray Wilkins following his death during the week, Chelsea dominated a one-sided, albeit distinctly low-key, first half.
Eden Hazard fizzed a low shot across goal wide before Alvaro Morata had the ball in the net only to be flagged offside as he tucked the ball through Hart’s legs.
Hazard then played a one-two on the edge of the box before poking the ball across the goalmouth, where Morata’s improvised back-flick rolled inches wide.
Hart, dropped earlier this season by Hammers boss David Moyes, provided a timely reminder of his talent with a superb save to deny Willian, who had been put clean through by Hazard.
Unfortunately for the Hammers keeper, Chelsea took the lead from the resulting corner, Victor Moses’ cross bouncing around the West Ham area before falling to the feet of Azpilicueta.
West Ham had plenty of chances to clear the ball, notably Marko Arnautovic and Aaron Cresswell, but they failed and Azpilicueta could not miss from a couple of yards out.
After the break Morata was denied by an offside flag again when Arthur Masuaku’s mistake sent Willian clear, the Spaniard just straying beyond the last defender as he tucked the ball home.
Instead it was West Ham, who had previously hardly tested the returning Thibaut Courtois, who hit back in the 73rd minute.
Blues skipper Gary Cahill’s weak headed clearance was pounced on by Arnautovic, who cut the ball back for Hernandez to sweep the ball first time past Courtois for his eighth goal of the season.
The Hammers were indebted to Hart for keeping them level with a breathtaking diving save to tip Marcos Alonso’s drive over, and he was at full-stretch again to palm Olivier Giroud’s header wide and preserve a point.