Timo Werner ended his goal drought as Chelsea strengthened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory at fellow Champions League hopefuls West Ham.
Werner had gone 14 games without finding the back of the net for club and country before opening the scoring just before half-time at London Stadium on Saturday.
The Germany forward also missed a golden opportunity in an entertaining derby, which Thomas Tuchel’s side deservedly won to go three points clear of the fifth-placed Hammers.
Fabian Balbuena was sent off 10 minutes from time for catching Ben Chilwell after playing the ball as West Ham’s hopes of securing a surprise Champions League spot took another blow with five games remaining.
20 – Timo Werner has been directly involved in 20 goals for Chelsea this season (11 goals, 9 assists); the most of any player for the club in all competitions. Threat.
Chelsea made a bright start and Werner flashed a shot over the crossbar after Mason Mount picked him out in the penalty area.
Lukasz Fabianski saved Mount’s shot after the lively midfielder turned sharply in the box, and Christian Pulisic fired a first-time strike straight at the West Ham goalkeeper following an excellent run from Werner down the right flank.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta breathed a huge sigh of relief when a VAR check ruled he had not handled Tomas Soucek’s goal-bound drive in the area and Werner opened the scoring two minutes before the break.
The former RB Leipzig forward was involved in a brilliant sweeping move before racing into the area to finish Ben Chilwell’s pinpoint cross with his right foot from seven yards out.
Werner should have doubled Chelsea’s lead early in the second half, but he somehow failed to hit the target from a few yards out when following up after Fabianski saved a strike from Mount.
Jesse Lingard went close to equalising with a right-footed attempt that looped just past the far post before Fabianski dived to keep out a long-range drive from the excellent Mount.
The busy Fabianski got down well to deny Werner and the Hammers’ hopes of salvaging something from the game took a big blow when Balbuena saw red following a VAR check, having followed through on Chilwell after launching the ball clear.