US men's national team star Christian Pulisic helped create both his sides goals in their latest Premier League fixture, but visiting Chelsea were beaten 3-2 by London rivals West Ham in a crucial match for both sides on Wednesday night at London Stadium.
Pulisic earned the fouls that led to both ends of Willian's brace in the loss on a night Chelsea had a chance to move above Leicester City into third. In the first half, his slick first touch seduced defender Issa Diop into extending his leg and bringing the attacker down in the penalty area.
In the second, Pulisic's barn-storming run resulted in Declan Rice's crunching tackle, a yellow card for the Hammers midfield and a dangerous free kick chance. Willian took it brilliantly, striking his effort off the inside of the right post to level the match at 2-all in the 72nd minute.
One minute from full time, West Ham sub Andriy Yarmolenko struck last on a superb counterattack to give a vital three points to the hosts in their relegation battle. Chelsea remain fourth on 54 points, one point back of Leicester City and two up on Manchester United and Wolves as they try to ensure themselves of UEFA Champions League football next season.
Pulisic showed little sign of the calf injury that led to his slightly early removal last weekend in the FA Cup quarterfinals, and twice came close to extending his Premier League scoring streak to three games. He also nearly set up Olivier Giroud for an equalizer earlier in the second half.
He again drew positive reviews from head coach Frank Lampard following the defeat.
"It is a big positive," Lampard said. "Christian is playing well as everyone can see."
"Christian had a patch running up to Christmas when he was playing towards his level as well and he got injured and was out for a long time," Lampard added. "So it is nice to see him back, fresh and hungry and playing with the quality he has. He is going to get better. He is a young player with great talent."
Lampard's praise was shared between Pulisic and Willian, who are forming a bit of a dynamic duo for the Blues of late.
"With Willian, he did really well with his goals. He took the penalty confidently, he linked up well with other players and of course there was his free-kick, which was excellent," Lampard said. "Then with Christian, he’s performing at the moment. We know he’s talented, we know he’s got that turn of pace and he’s showing that in games now. Both players are at that level now and it’s up to them to ensure they keep it up."