ALPHONSE AREOLA dug deep into the Qatar World Cup archives to deny Enzo Fernandez from the spot – and earn West Ham a crucial London derby victory.
GettyAreola saved Fernandez’s penalty to keep the score at 1-1[/caption]
The Blues were briefly level after Carney Chukwuemeka’s equaliser, and had the chance to take the lead before half time with an Enzo Fernandez penalty.
Raheem Sterling had been brought down by Tomas Soucek in the 42nd minute, but Irons keeper Areola had done his homework.
His last penalty came in the quarter final shoot-out win against Holland, dragging his effort wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.
And French international Areola guessed that way again, palming away another poor effort from Fernandez. It was also his first penalty save since joining West Ham in July 2021.
Areola said: “Yeah, I’ve been waiting for that one. It feels good to help the team, push the team and it kept them in the game.
“With Xavi [Valero, goalkeeping coach] we always watch every penalty. They watch us as well so it is mind games, but they worked for us.
“I think [the World Cup quarter final penalty] was his last one. I was ready and we won.”
Areola has recently been handed the No.1 jersey in place of Premier League veteran Lukasz Fabianski.
Fabianski, 38, angrily claimed in an interview with Polish media after their Prem opening day 1-1 draw to Bournemouth the decision had not been handled well by boss David Moyes.
Moyes hit back by suggesting the plan was always to promote Areola, 30, to No.1.
Areola explained: “I have always been ready when the manager asks me to play. I have tried to give my best and I was ready for that, working hard every day to help the team.”
On whether Fabianski has been supportive, Areola added: “He has been important. We have been pushing each other every day.
“If I play, if he plays, the most important is the result of the team.”
James Ward-Prowse, 28, started against Chelsea for his club debut, following his £30m arrival from Southampton this summer.
Mexico international midfielder Edson Alvarez – a £35m purchase from Ajax – also came off the bench in the 81st minute for his first appearance in Claret and Blue to provide cover after Nayef Aguerd’s 67th minute sending off.
Alvarez said: “It was amazing. I was not nervous, but had a lot of energy. I wanted to play, and there is no better way than with a win.
“The plan was to come on at 60 minutes but after Nayef’s red card the plan changed, but it was not bad to have 10 minutes to start with.”
Alvarez, 25, was linked with a move to Chelsea last summer only for talks to collapse.
Asked out what it was like to make his Prem debut against them, he added: “Yeah, it was funny, but I always think everything happens for a reason.
“Sometimes we want things but they are not in our hands. Now I am at a very good team and I am super happy. I have found a great dressing room with great players.”