Fabregas double denies West Ham top-four spot

West Ham stays fifth after missing the chance to defeat Chelsea for the first time in 10 attempts at Stamford Bridge.


Cesc Fabregas scored twice in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2009.

Cesc Fabregas scored a dramatic penalty with one minute remaining as Chelsea fought back twice to draw 2-2 with West Ham at Stamford Bridge, denying the visitor the chance to move into the Premier League's top four.

Manuel Lanzini's magnificent strike had West Ham in front, but Fabregas scored with a free-kick just before half-time to level matters. Slaven Bilic introduced Carroll and he converted Dimitri Payet's pass after 61 minutes to seemingly seal victory, but Fabregas intervened with a controversial late spot-kick that was awarded for Michail Antonio's challenge on Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

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A win would have put West Ham fourth in the table ahead of the meeting between their two closest challengers for a Champions League spot – Manchester City and Manchester United – on Sunday. Instead, it stays fifth and missed the chance to defeat Chelsea for the first time in 10 attempts at Stamford Bridge.

Fabregas' late strike ensures Guus Hiddink's men avoid what would have been a first defeat in 14 Premier League matches since Jose Mourinho's sacking last December after a 10-day spell that had also seen the team crash out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

Loic Remy was handed just his second league start of the season in place of the suspended Diego Costa - with captain John Terry and Oscar also coming into the team - and the forward forced Adrian to get down and save with his legs from a tight angle early on.

But it was the visitor who opened the scoring in stunning fashion after 17 minutes when persistence from Diafra Sakho – one of the visitor's three changes – and Payet opened up space for Lanzini outside the area. The Argentine did the rest, curling a magnificent strike past the despairing dive of Thibaut Courtois for his sixth goal of the season.

West Ham almost made it two when Sakho's pass was brilliantly flicked on by Payet, but Aaron Cresswell's tame finish was deflected wide by Branislav Ivanovic's block as a key chance went begging.

Willian was just off target with a long-range free-kick at the other end as Chelsea, who had physio Jon Fearn back on the bench for the first time since the Eva Carneiro controversy, looked for a way back into the match. 

The equaliser arrived three minutes into first-half stoppage-time from another set-piece. Fabregas stepped up from just outside the box after Winston Reid was booked for a challenge on Oscar and delivered an exquisite strike into the top corner, with West Ham's protests that he had moved the ball back to ensure he had more room ignored by referee Robert Madley.

West Ham was inches away from re-taking the lead when a fast break led to Sakho playing in Cresswell, who lashed an effort against the crossbar from a tight angle. 

Bilic brought on Carroll for Sakho and within 84 seconds of being on the pitch, the substitute scored. A precise pass from in-form Payet sent Carroll through and his first-time, left-footed finish was not cleanly struck but had enough on it to bounce past Courtois.

John Obi Mikel and Fabregas both headed over from close-range opportunities, while the influential Spain midfielder saw an overhead kick fall inches wide as Chelsea tried to find an equaliser.

It was almost game over in the closing stages, but Carroll had a header dramatically cleared off the line from Payet's corner.

That proved decisive when Chelsea was awarded a penalty with one minute remaining. Substitute Loftus-Cheek surged through on goal and went down under pressure from Antonio, with Madley pointing to the spot despite furious West Ham protests.

Fabregas then stepped up and calmly sent Adrian the wrong way to claim a controversial point.

In other games, Stoke City and Norwich City recorded one-goal margin victories over Watford and West Bromwich Albion respectively. Jonathan Walters and Joselu scored for Stoke City before Troy Deeney netted a consolation for Watford. The Potters moved up to seventh while Quique Sanchez Flores's Hornets stay rooted to 14th place.

Norwich City kept its survival hopes alive with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. Robbie Brady's second half goal proved to be enough for the Canaries who climbed out of the drop zone.

In the late kick-off, Swansea City moved up to 15th in the table with a 1-0 victory over rock-bottom Aston Villa. Argentine defender Federico Fernandez was the goal-scoring hero for Francesco Guidolin's side.

>Watford 1-2 Stoke City >

>West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Norwich City

>Swansea 1-0 Aston Villa


Key Opta stats

- Fabregas scored twice in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2009. The Spain international also netted his first goal directly from a free-kick in the Premier League since December 2009 [the same game v Aston Villa].
- Carroll has scored home and away against Chelsea for the first time in his Premier League career.
- Four of Lanzini’s five Premier League goals this season have been scored away from home. It was his first goal in the league since November.
- Lanzini’s strike was also West Ham’s first goal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League since March 2010. 

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