Goalkeeper David Martin said he was “in tears” after a debut where West Ham ended a seven-game winless run with victory at Chelsea.
Martin, who is the son of Hammers legend Alvin, was picked by boss Manuel Pellegrini instead of Spanish keeper Roberto, who had conceded nine goal in three games.
And it proved an inspired choice as the visitors kept a first clean sheet since 22 September and achieved a first victory at Chelsea for 17 years.
Aaron Cresswell scored the winner three minutes after the break as he cut inside and fired low past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea had plenty of chances early on as Christian Pulisic missed the target from a few yards out. The American also wasted a great opportunity late on.
But West Ham relieved the pressure on Pellegrini as 33-year-old Martin also made it a Premier League debut to remember.
The former Milwall and MK Dons keeper sank to his knees before celebrating in the stands with his father, who played in the West Ham defence for 21 years.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Martin said. “I’m just pleased I got through it, I didn’t let anyone down and actually I enjoyed it in the end.
“My dad didn’t say much – I think we were both in tears. For my dad to play for the club for 21 years and see it, and for me to make my debut, keep a clean sheet and get win for the boys, it is so pleasing.
“I was struggling to eat for two days; Cressa [Cresswell] was laughing at me because my plate was taken away because I couldn’t eat my food.
“I hope I’ve given myself a good chance [to keep my place] but I have to work hard and keep grounded.”
Victory lifted West Ham six points clear of the relegation zone while Chelsea failed to close the three-point gap to second-placed Manchester City and Leicester City in third.
Emotional Martin helps engineer win
Third-choice keeper Martin came into the side after a woeful run of form by Roberto, which had contributed to the Hammers slipping to one place above the relegation zone before kick-off.
A lack of confidence in the Spaniard seemed to be affecting the team, who had not kept a clean sheet since their last Premier League win – against Manchester United – more than two months ago.
And prior to the game at Stamford Bridge, there were some reports that Chilean Pellegrini had two games to save his job.
But Martin, who was also on Liverpool’s books early in his career, seemed to lift his defence as the likes of centre-back Fabian Balbuena were in fine form.
Despite his nerves in advance of such a momentous occasion, the nerves did not show during the game as he made a fantastic double stop to deny Mateo Kovacic and Oliver Giroud.
And he was roundly cheered during the match by the West Ham fans, who had booed Roberto during the 3-2 defeat by Tottenham last Saturday.
The visiting supporters were delirious when they thought their team had gone 2-0 up after 69 minutes, before Michail Antonio’s goal was ruled out after a VAR review for handball.
But it proved a mere footnote at the final whistle, as Martin was surrounded by his team-mates and began to let a career highlight sink in.
Chelsea pay for profligacy
Although West Ham held firm, Chelsea paid for failing to take their chances with Pulisic perhaps the most guilty after lifting an effort over early on and slicing a chance wide after being put through by substitute N’Golo Kante.
To blame Pulisic, who has scored five goals in his last four Premier League games, would be unfair, though. He was among Chelsea’s best players as he attacked from the left, with Reece James also showing plenty of endeavour down the right.
Manager Frank Lampard, who had a stellar record against former team West Ham while playing for Chelsea, was missing top scorer Tammy Abraham, who injured his hip in the 2-2 draw at Valencia in the Champions League in midweek.
The Chelsea boss also made several changes as Kante started on the bench, and Mason Mount came back into the side where he battled against best friend Declan Rice in midfield.
But after the first 25 minutes where they were in the ascendancy, the game changed course after Arrizabalaga saved well from Antonio’s header.
The visitors grew in confidence from that chance and Chelsea struggled to contain their counter-attacks which eventually led to Cresswell’s goal.
Without the more mobile Abraham, Chelsea found their best chance came from the wings, but Giroud was poor and Mount was not clinical when he was presented with a sight of goal.
Willian came on to provide a boost towards the end, but Chelsea showed once again that when they cannot score, teams can find a soft core in their defence.
They have now conceded 20 goals in their 14 Premier League games, and following six successive wins, they have now suffered back-to-back defeats following last Saturday’s loss at Manchester City.
Man of the match – David Martin
Chelsea fail to make a single foul – the best stats
- West Ham ended a run of 13 games without victory at Stamford Bridge (D4 L9).
- West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell has scored three goals in just nine Premier League appearances this season, his best-ever scoring return in a single campaign in the competition.
- Chelsea didn’t concede a single foul in this game, the first time they’ve ever done so in an entire Premier League game since Opta started recording data (2003-04).
- Chelsea are yet to gain a single point from a losing position in the Premier League this season, losing all four games in which they’ve fallen behind this term.
- Chelsea had 19 shots in this match but failed to score – their most in a league match at Stamford Bridge without finding the net since January 2018 against Bournemouth (21).
Chelsea host Aston Villa on Wednesday (kick-off 19:30 GMT) before travelling to Everton next Saturday (12:30). West Ham are at Wolves on Wednesday (19:30) before hosting Arsenal the following Monday (20:00).