West Ham started 2022 firmly in the top-four race as first-half goals gave them a 3-2 win at Crystal Palace in the Premier League, despite a late rally from the hosts.
With Arsenal losing 2-1 against Man City earlier on New Year’s Day, West Ham are just a point off fourth spot, with struggling Norwich and then Leeds up next at home in the Premier League, but this was anything but simple.
Fresh from their first win in five at Watford in midweek, West Ham scored three unanswered goals in the first half. Michail Antonio opened the scoring, touching Said Benrahma’s wicked delivery home (22), before Manuel Lanzini’s cute touch and deadly finish on the volley from the edge made it 2-0 (25).
Lanzini tucked away a penalty late in the half after Luka Milivojevic handled just inside the box as he went to control the ball unopposed (45+5), a decision which infuriated Palace. But their manager Patrick Vieira, who escorted the officials down the tunnel at the whistle, did admit after the game: “It was a penalty.”
The scoreline at half-time was misleading – Palace struck the woodwork twice and had several chances – but they got the goals they feel their play deserved late on as Odsonne Edouard touched past Lukasz Fabianski from sub Michael Olise’s brilliant cross (83).
Olise’s free-kick cross then found the net through bodies in the box in the 90th minute, and despite a nervy finish as Jean-Philippe Mateta’s overhead kick fell just wide, West Ham held on for three points.
Vieira said after the game on Sky Sports that naivety cost Palace in a game where they were “the better team”, while West Ham boss David Moyes was “thrilled” despite admitting his “didn’t play particularly well.”
This result means West Ham have claimed their first back-to-back victories since early November in the Premier League, while Palace stay 11th.
Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Ward (6), Guehi (6), Andersen (6), Mitchell (6), Milivojevic (5), Hughes (5), Schlupp (6), Ayew (6), Edouard (6), Benteke (5)
Subs: Mateta (6), Olise (7), Riedewald (5)
West Ham: Fabianski (5), Coufal (6), Diop (6), Dawson (6), Johnson (6), Soucek (6), Rice (7), Lanzini (8), Bowen (7), Benrahma (7), Antonio (7)
Subs: Masuaku (6), Vlasic (5), Noble (NA)
Man of the match: Manuel Lanzini
How West Ham held on in NYD thriller
In a first half full of goalmouth action, Palace started brightly, hitting the post through Jeffrey Schlupp’s hooked effort from six yards out.
Vicente Guaita then produced a sensational double save to first deny Antonio’s poke from close range, then Benrahma’s return header while the Spaniard was on the floor. But he couldn’t keep West Ham out for long as the visitors flattened Palace with a quickfire double.
Benrahma’s delivery from the left was impossible for Palace’s defenders, and needed only the faintest of touchest from Antonio to beat Guaita for the opener, only Antonio’s second goal in nine appearances, but his 11th of the season so far.
West Ham had their tails up and scored again two minutes later; the dominant Declan Rice drove through midfield, spotted a gap that Lanzini occupied, and having turned inside Joachim Andersen, the ball jumped up perfectly for Lanzini to lash a brilliant volley past Guaita.
Palace had their chances – Edouard lashed an effort against the crossbar and Christian Benteke saw two half chances saved by Fabianski – but the hosts only had themselves to blame in the final moments of first-half stoppage time.
In looking to control the ball, Milivojevic instinctively handballed just inside the box, with VAR intervening and advising Darren England to check the pitchside screen. England gave the spot-kick, and Lanzini tucked it into the bottom left corner for 3-0.
3 – West Ham have gone into a Premier League away game with a three-goal half-time lead for the very first time, with this their 490th match on the road in the competition. Ascendancy.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 1, 2022
The second half was initially far less eventful. Edouard stretched to receive Jordan Ayew’s ball across the face of goal, but could only turn over, and though Vieira brought on Mateta to bolster the attack, things weren’t falling Palace’s way until it was too late.
Antonio flashed a snap-shot wide for West Ham, Edouard pulled a good chance wide from Mateta’s lay-up, but Edouard did finally get his goal, touching home Olise’s fantastic, curled delivery from the right with seven minutes remaining.
Palace kept pushing and had West Ham nerves jangling in stoppage time – Olise’s cross from a free-kick somehow found the far corner through the crowd in the box for 3-2 – before Mateta’s overhead kick in the last minute of stoppage time fell inches wide of Fabianski’s right-hand post.
Few could have begrudged Palace a point despite the first-half deficit, registering 62 per cent possession and 22 shots to West Ham’s 10, but the Hammers held on for a vital win having scored nine goals in their last three games.
Analysis: West Ham happy without the ball
After a tricky period of just one point taken from a possible nine before and just after Christmas, West Ham are firmly back in the top-four hunt with back-to-back away victories.
At Selhurst Park, West Ham won without playing particularly well – David Moyes said as much. Yes, that’s a good sign, etcetera, etcetera, but while Moyes’ side have thrilling and interchangeable attacking options – this time it was Manuel Lanzini putting in a MOTM performance, with Pablo Fornals out – their gameplan often centres around surrendering possession.
West Ham had just 37 per cent of the ball on Saturday, the seventh time out of 20 games this season they’ve had possession in the 30s. They’ve won four of those games – against Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and this Palace win – and suffered only narrow defeats against Man Utd and Man City. In fact, West Ham register more points per game (1.85) this season in games where they have posession in the 30s, than in games where they register over 40 per cent of the ball (1.61).
Four of their most disappointing results this season came in games where they dominated the ball – draws at Burnley and Saints (59 and 58 per cent respectively) and defeats at home to Brentford and Saints (60 and 56 per cent respectively).
They play four of the current bottom six at home in their next six games. On paper it looks a welcome run of fixtures, but they’ll need to show dexterity when the onus is on them to force open gaps on the ball.
Vieira: We were the better side | No penalty
Palace boss Patrick Vieira on Sky Sports:
“It’s really difficult because I think tonight we played some good football and created a number of chances to win the game. I think today we were the better team.
“[West Ham] is a mature team, and [we] allowed them to win the game today. At times, we were naive. We were unlucky as well, because I think we had the best chances in the game. But we have to learn and improve. Playing well is not good enough to win football matches.
“With more maturity and experience, we will manage the game in a different way. But I think we should at least get a point today. We may lack experience but what we have in the dressing room is players who believe until the last minute, like our fans.”
On the penalty decision: “It’s the referee’s decision and from where I was, it was difficult to see. I saw it afterwards and it is a penalty.”
Moyes: Thrilled with win, but we didn’t play well
West Ham boss David Moyes on Sky Sports:
“Really good result, really pleased, at the end of a pretty difficult week with games and injury, so thrilled with the win.
We didn’t play well, but we scored three goals, and that’s what we’re capable of. I don’t think we played particularly well.
“I thought you saw qualities from Palace in the first half, they started the game better than us. They had lots of opportunities but we were more clinical tonight, and thankfully.
“It’s been a tough schedule – before the three games, we had a Carabao quarter as well – it’s been a tough schedule for the boys and the staff. We’ve won two away games in the Premier League, around Christmas time, it isn’t easy.”
On Lanzini’s goal: “He is capable of that. We’ve seen it a few different times, he’s playing well for us at the moment.”
Andersen: We should have won easily
Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen on Sky Sports:
“We’ve played West Ham two times now and both times we have dominated them. I think we should win this game easy. They had two chances and a penalty which isn’t a penalty. We should win this game.
“For me, his [Milivojevic’s] arm is close to his body so it isn’t a penalty. It’s obvious it isn’t a penalty.
“We had so many chances in the first half and that gave us hope. We spoke at half-time that we will create the chances, we just had to take them. The penalty made it difficult at 3-0 before half-time. It’s a tough one to take.”
Antonio: Lanzini the ‘jewel’ | Benrahma cross a dream
West Ham striker Michail Antonio on Sky Sports:
On Benrahma’s cross: “Striker’s dream. Unbelievable. I just had to get a touch on it. I wish I had those every week.”
On Lanzini’s superb goal: “They call him the jewel here, he’s magic. He is showing his quality again and we are happy we have the jewel back.”
Crystal Palace head to Championship Millwall in the FA Cup third round next Saturday; kick-off at 12.45pm.
West Ham’s third-round game sees them hosting Leeds on Sunday, January 9; kick-off at 2pm.
Source : Sky Sports