Welbeck strikes but Albion are beaten by Chelsea

Albion still have work to do to finish in the top ten for the third successive season after defeat to Chelsea at the Amex.

Cole Palmer – a player Roberto De Zerbi admitted Albion had been keen to sign last summer – scored his 22nd goal of the season to give Chelsea a first-half lead.

On the day when the Premier League confirmed clubs would have a vote on getting rid of VAR, Albion twice benefitted from its intervention. Referee Michael Salisbury awarded Chelsea a penalty but changed his mind on the advice of VAR Peter Bankes. He made a second trip to the monitor late and sent off Reece James for a foul on Joao Pedro.

Danny Welbeck stretches to score his seventh goal of the season late on.

Joao and Pascal Gross went close either side of the break but substitute Christopher Nkunku made it 2-0 midway through the second half. Albion kept going and Danny Welbeck pulled one back deep into stoppage time but Chelsea clung on.

Albion fans had created a raucous atmosphere, and the players were clearly up for the battle too as the game started at a frenetic pace.

They went close on seven minutes when Chelsea skipper Conor Gallagher had to intervene to prevent Gross from nodding the ball into the net after Adam Webster flicked on a corner.

Simon Adingra under pressure from Malo Gusto.

A move which began with Bart Verbruggen then swept Albion upfield in a blur of passes and quick movement. Tariq Lamptey’s deep cross found Simon Adingra whose low shot was a fraction wide of the post.

Moises Caicedo and Marc Cucurella’ s every touch was not surprisingly booed, and the temperature rose a notch in the 17th minute when Cucurella fell Facundo Buonanotte’s challenge on the by-line. The referee pointed to the spot but changed his mind after replays showed Buonanotte had got the ball.

Chelsea were getting on top though and after Verbruggen tipped Malo Gusto’s 25-yarder over at full stretch they went ahead on 33 minutes.

Billy Gilmour breaks forward with Cole Palmer watching on.

Cucurella was picked out on the overlap by Gallagher and dug out a cross which Palmer, who had started the move, headed beyond Bart Verbruggen from six yards out.

Albion had lost their earlier fluency, but they nearly equalised in first-half stoppage time after Julio Enciso’s pass sent Lamptey down the right. Joao met his excellent cross with a firm header that Djordje Petrovic tipped onto the bar and over.

Injuries seem to be plaguing Albion to the end and skipper Lewis Dunk didn’t appear for the second period after taking a knock.

Referee Michael Salisbury looks at the monitor before deciding not to award Chelsea a first-half penalty.

The next goal was going to be crucial and there were chances for both sides. Nkunku was denied by Webster’s timely intervention after Nicolas Jackson beat the offside trap and funnelled the ball across the face of goal. At the other end Gross got on the end of another fine Lamptey cross but his close-range shot went the wrong side of the post.

Albion seemed to have some momentum, but they were punished on the break after 64 minutes. Gusto made a strong run down the right and his clever cut-back was swept home by an unmarked Nkunku from eight yards out.

That seemed to be that but there was late drama. Chelsea finished with ten men after substitute James kicked out at Joao on the touchline late on. Adingra was denied when he met Gross’s cross with a cushioned volley which struck the left-hand upright before Welbeck scored his seventh goal of the season deep into stoppage time after getting in front of Benoit Badiashile to steer Joao’s cross past Petrovic. Chelsea clung on and Albion will have plenty to play for on Sunday.

Albion: Verbruggen, Lamptey (Offiah 85), Webster, Dunk (Barco 45), Igor, Gross, Gilmour (Baleba 70), Buonanotte (Welbeck 70), Adingra, Enciso (Fati 85), Joao.

Subs not used: Steele, Lallana, Moder, Atom.

Attendance: 31555

Match report in association with SnickersUK.com

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