Rafael Benitez’s troubled start to life at Chelsea plumbed new depths at Upton Park, as West Ham produced an incredible second-half comeback to snatch a memorable victory.Chants of “sacked in the morning” and “one Di Matteo” rang out as Chelsea allowed a 1-0 half-time lead to slip, with West Ham roaring back thanks to goals from Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga.Juan Mata fired Chelsea in front early in the first half and the visitors might have increased their advantage before the interval, only to see a series of good chances go to waste.Carlton Cole headed West Ham level, before Diame fired in with a ferocious low shot. With time running out West Ham broke again, allowing Maiga to turn in a rebound.To make matters worse, 26 points from 15 matches represents Chelsea’s worst Premier League start in the Abramovich era.It is the first time since February 1995 that Chelsea have failed to win for seven league matches and Benitez becomes the first manager since Gianluca Vialli to not win any of his opening three matches as manager. Much of the focus after this game will fall on Benitez and Chelsea but West Ham were an unrecognisable team after the interval, with the introduction of Diame crucial in changing the game.Chelsea will struggle to know how they let this one slip. Sharper to the ball and swifter to use it, they bossed the early stages, although it took until the 13th minute for them to construct their first meaningful attack.Victor Moses gathered the ball wide on the right and, seeing Torres angling his run behind the West Ham backline, found his team-mate with a cleverly weighted pass. In one fluid movement, the struggling striker cut the ball back across goal where Mata stroked it beyond goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. The move was a study in simplicity.Chelsea’s attacking play was creative, clever and, at times, rapier sharp. The West Ham defence was shredded time and again, as Torres, Moses and Mata were each presented chances that they contrived to waste. And yet, the hosts clung on.Mark Noble fought for everything in the engine room, Matt Jarvis turned and twisted and Kevin Nolan provided the spark in attack. As half-time approached Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was booked for punching outside his area. James Collins’s resulting free-kick deflected up, allowing James Tomkins to head on to Nolan, whose powerful header was tipped over.The introduction of Diame gave West Ham another dimension. The confidence and swagger which had accompanied Chelsea’s play in the first half deserted them as the contest turned into an altogether more muscular affair.Where West Ham had stood off and allowed Chelsea to dictate, now they snapped in and fought for everything. Carlton Cole had wasted two earlier chances but when Jarvis’s cross deflected up off Gary Cahill, he reacted before Ivanovic, to stoop low and head firmly beyond Cech at the near post. Jarvis tested Cech moments later. Chelsea were being forced back time and again but their attacking threat remained nonetheless. Eden Hazard forced Jaaskelainen to turn his fierce low shot away, only for Torres to prod the rebound straight back at the West Ham goalkeeper.Moments later, Mata clattered Jaaskelainen’s left-hand post with a delightful 25-yard free-kick. West Ham were at it too, however, as first Jarvis raced clear only to see his shot brilliantly saved by Cech before Ashley Cole cleared Winston Reid’s header off the line. But West Ham would not be denied.Carlton Cole’s clever pass found Diame on the edge of the box and his shot flashed beyond Cech and into the net.Chelsea were all over the place and when Matthew Taylor’s shot was deflected back to Maiga, the West Ham forward made no mistake to complete an incredible comeback.
Mali suffered a 4-3 defeat to Gabon last week Monday and the new group of the Eagles will also be fighting to impress returning head coach Alain Giresse who fully takes charge of office on April 1. Mali: L L D D L
Goalkeepers: Razak Braimah (Mirandes, Spain), Fatau Dauda (AshGold)Defenders: Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), John Boye (Erciyesspor, Turkey), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Jeffery Schlupp (Leicester City, England), Gyimah Edwin (Mpumalanga Black Aces, South Africa), Daniel Amartey, (FC Copenhagen, Denmark) He is expected to make changes in the starting line-up that was defeated 2-1 by Senegal.Fresh facesEvian TG centre-back Jonathan Mensah who got injured in the game is expected to have his place taken by Daniel Amartey while goalkeeper Razak Braimah could be made to start from the bench. “We have another game against Mali on Tuesday and I believe we can build on how we played the Senegal game and make things better,” he said. Ghana and Mali have 21 games played between them with the Black Stars coming out victors in 10 games, drawn 6 and lost to the Eagles 5 times.In their last encounter, Mali defeated Ghana 3-1 in the third place finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations held in South Africa. Ghana had early on won by a lone goal courtesy Mubarak Wakaso when the two sides met at the group stage. Mali Ghana coach Avram Grant described the performance against Senegal as “satisfactory” and hopes to build on the defeat. Midfielders: Rabiu Mohammed (Krasnodar, Russia), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese, Italy), Afriyie Acquah (Sampdoria, Italy), Solomon Asante (T.P. Mazembe, DR Congo), Christian Atsu (Everton, England), Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic, Scotland), Andre Ayew (Olympique Marseille, France), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht, Belgium), Seidu Salifu (Club Africaine, Tunisia)Forwards: Jordan Ayew (Lorient, France), Kwesi Appiah (Crystal Palace, England), Ebenezer Assifuah (FC Sion, Switzerland), Richmond Boakye-Yiadom (Atalanta, Italy), David Accam (Chicago Fire, U.S.A) Jonathan Mensah looks set to be rested from the Mali game after missing out on training on Monday. He is the only player in Avram Grant’s 22-man squad injured at the moment. Avram Grant has said he will play a 4-3-3 system, deaprting from the 4-4-2 used on Saturday. The international encounter will be the second game in the past seven days by both sides who are shaping up their teams ahead of the upcoming Afcon and World Cup qualifiers. Aside Mali losing captain Seydou Keita, Diaby Abdoulaye and Mamoutou N’Diaye to various degrees of injuries, new striker Moussa Marega will not be available for the Eagles after he was recalled by his Portuguese club Maritimo for preparations towards a Portuguese Cup semifinals clash with FC Porto.His place has been taken by youngster Tiécoro Keita who plays for French third division side Paris FC. Forwards: Cheick Fantamady Diarra (Auxerre, France), Modibo Maïga (Metz, France), Mana Dembelé (Nancy, France), Tiécoro Keita (Paris FC, France)–Follow Gary on Twitter: @garyalsmith Ghana: W W W L L