Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace
West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace
West Ham United were undone by three set-pieces at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, as Crystal Palace ran out 3-1 victors in this lunchtime Barclays Premier League contest.
Glenn Murray was the Hammers’ tormentor in chief, nodding home in either half, sandwiching Scott Dann’s firm header.
Palace’s matchwinner on the day saw red late on for two bookable offences and though Enner Valencia’s fifth of the campaign prompted a West Ham onslaught, the hosts were unable to set up a grandstand finish.
It took a little while for this one to get going, as Sam Allardyce named an unchanged XI, though new boy Nene was named on the bench for the first time.
With 12 gone, Aaron Cresswell got his attempted cross all wrong, but it nearly caught out Julian Speroni at the near post and only narrowly cleared the crossbar. Cresswell apologised, but it was as close as the Hammers had come.
Not for long, though, as Noble almost celebrated his new contract with a splendid goal. Having won the free-kick himself, his set-piece was a beauty. Up and over, but not quite down in time, as it thudded off the bar and behind. The midfielder stamped his feet in despair.
But West Ham were not having it all their own way, far from it. Jason Puncheon played in Murray, who, under pressure from Winston Reid, slashed well wide.
At the other end, Diafra Sakho spotted Speroni off his line and tried his luck from way out. It was deflected by a Palace body and over it went. Then Valencia met Stewart Downing’s deep cross but nodded wide of the far post.
Murray, by now making a real nuisance of himself, went close once more, firing straight at Adrian from the left-hand side of the box.
And while the Hammers paid an emotional tribute to the late Dylan Tombides after 38 minutes, West Ham’s Spanish stopper had to use his feet to repel another Murray strike, again the recipient of a Puncheon pass.
But the Palace man was not to be denied as he opened the scoring in the 41st minute and in ugly fashion too. Murray’s header from a right-wing corner should have been cleared but Cresswell swiped at it in the six-yard box and only succeeded in diverting it into the corner.
Palace resumed with the bit between their teeth and doubled their advantage from another Puncheon corner within six second-half minutes. Dann rose above Reid and his header had too much on it for Adrian, who could only palm it into the top corner with his right hand.
It might have got worse but thankfully Mile Jedinak’s long-range free-kick swung a yard or two wide of Adrian’s right-hand upright.
Big Sam rolled the dice on the hour, bringing on Brazilian debutant Nene in place of an unusually subdued Alex Song. But before West Ham’s newest recruit could find his feet, Murray’s second and Palace’s third surely put the game to bed.
Bagging his third assist of the afternoon, Puncheon swung in a free-kick from the left and there was a stooping Murray to glance a header into the far corner.
West Ham then came within the width of a post of a consolation, when Jenkinson picked out Nene on the edge of the box, whose curling left-footed strike grazed the woodwork.
Palace were to end the game a man light, as Murray received his second caution of the contest for a late and needless challenge on Reid in the Hammers box.
With quarter of an hour to play came a glimmer of hope courtesy of Valencia. The Ecuadorian collected from Downing 18 yards from goal and drilled an angled drive into the left corner.
Thereafter the chances came thick and fast but Speroni was equal to the lot. He firstly foiled Jenkinson at his near post, before Downing drove low and hard into the side netting. Valencia then let fly from distance and his blockbuster of a strike drew another supreme Speroni stop, diving high to his left to palm it aside.
West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell, Song (Nene 61), Noble (c), Kouyate,
Downing, Sakho, Valencia
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Nolan, Jarvis, O'Brien, Collins, Demel
Goal: Valencia 76
Booked: Noble, Valencia
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Bolasie (Ledley 83), Zaha (Ameobi 72), Jedinak (c), Murray, Mutch (McArthur 33), Delaney, Kelly, Puncheon
Subs: Hennessey, Hangeland, Gayle, Souare
Goals: Murray 41, Dann 51, 63
Booked: Murray, Ward, Delaney
Sent off: Murray
Referee: Mike Dean