Sébastien Haller 55'
34' Christian Benteke
|Patrick van Aanholt||3|
West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace
Sébastien Haller’s spectacular overhead kick earned a point for West Ham United against Crystal Palace in a closely-fought contest at London Stadium on Wednesday night, cancelling out Christian Benteke’s first half header.
The Hammers had to work for their point after falling behind to the Belgian’s goal, but they made a telling change at the interval by introducing Manuel Lanzini and were rewarded with the leveller soon after.
Haller’s strike was one that will live long in the Hammers’ memory, as the Ivorian showed wonderful technique to meet Vladimir Coufal’s cross acrobatically and powerfully to give Vicente Guaita no chance in the Palace goal.
The visitors then had to deal with a red card for Benteke in the game’s final quarter, but they stood firm to deny the Hammers a second, with the derby ending 1-1.
The game began at a frantic pace, with the Hammers looking to use the speed of Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma to get at their visitors, while the Eagles responded in kind through Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend.
As the game settled down, it was the visitors who carried the greater threat early on and, with 14 minutes on the clock, Benteke served a warning of what was to come later in the half when he got on the end of Joel Ward’s centre, but headed wide when well placed.
Shortly afterwards, another cross from the right hand at the other end yielded the Hammers’ best moment of the half.
Vladimir Coufal delivered invitingly from his flank towards Pablo Fornals, who had ghosted into the box to meet with his head from bang on the penalty spot. Guaita had to scramble across his goal, but the header faded wide of his right-hand post.
West Ham were struggling to get the ball into their front men and Palace made life more difficult for them by moving into the lead ten minutes before the break.
Ward was afforded far too much time to size up a cross from the right, and he picked out Benteke, who timed his run off Issa Diop to perfection to plant a firm header beyond a helpless Lukasz Fabianski.
Bowen forced a sharp reaction save from Guaita as West Ham looked to respond, but in truth they were fortunate to head into the break just a single goal down as Benteke spurned a glorious chance two minutes before the interval.
Zaha and Townsend combined neatly for the latter to glide into the box and square for the Belgium striker. The goal was at his mercy, but thankfully for the Hammers he scuffed his effort straight into Fabianski’s hands.
West Ham introduced Lanzini from the bench at half-time and he was involved in the quite wonderful move which brought them level ten minutes later.
The Hammers worked the ball from back to front down their right hand side at real pace, with Fabianski, Coufal and Bowen combining before Lanzini collected possession centrally.
With Palace defenders attracted to the Argentine, he slipped it back wide to Coufal, who stood up a cross for Haller to meet with a perfectly executed overhead kick, thundering the ball into the top left hand corner.
Fabianski produced a vital touch to turn Patrick van Aanholt’s goalbound angled drive behind as Palace came forward again, but the visitors’ ambitions lessened 19 minutes from the end when Benteke led with his arm when challenging Tomas Soucek in the air. Referee David Coote handed the Belgian a second yellow card, leaving Palace a man light for the game’s conclusion.
To Palace’s credit, they remained resolute despite their disadvantage and limited the Hammers to strikes from outside the box as they searched for the winner.
The closest they came was when Declan Rice brushed the top of Guaita’s net with a fizzing right-footed drive from 20 yards, but it wasn’t close enough as both sides had to settle for a point.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen (Yarmolenko 80), Benrahma (Snodgrass 88), Fornals (Lanzini 46), Haller
Subs: Randolph, Fredericks, Dawson, Noble
Goal: Haller 55
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Kouyate, van Aanholt, Townsend (Schlupp 85), Milivojevic, McArthur, Eze (Ayew 76), Zaha, Benteke
Subs: Butland, Mitchell, Tomkins, Riedewald, Batshuayi
Goal: Benteke 35
Booked: Benteke, Milivojevic
Referee: David Coote