Hammers keep Eagles grounded

West Ham United are up to third in the Barclays Premier League after yet another fantastic away day.

The Hammers made it 13 points out of a possible 15 on the road by scoring a deserved 3-1 win over Alan Pardew’s ten-man Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

A second goal in two games from Carl Jenkinson was followed by late strikes from Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet as Slaven Bilic’s side extended their unbeaten run to six league matches with a composed and confident performance in south London.

The first half was a dramatic, breathless affair, featuring two goals, a twice-taken penalty and a red card for Palace striker Dwight Gayle.

After just 40 seconds, Dimitri Payet found himself unmarked inside the Palace penalty area, but he could not quite stretch his right leg far enough to divert a Manuel Lanzini cross into the bottom corner.

Inside the opening ten minutes Jason Puncheon dragged a low shot well wide before West Ham responded through the influential figure of Payet. The Frenchman cut inside two defenders and forced Wayne Hennessey into a low save at his near post.

Aaron Cresswell and James Tomkins then sent efforts off-target, but Jenkinson was far more accurate as he poked the Hammers into the lead on 22 minutes.

Payet passed square to Victor Moses, who threaded a well-paced through ball between Scott Dann and left-back Pape Souare for Jenkinson to control and finish calmly past Wales hero Hennessey.

Unfortunately, West Ham’s lead lasted less than three minutes as Jenkinson – perhaps still feeling an adrenaline rush after his goal – brought down Gayle inside the penalty area. Yohan Cabaye stepped up and netted, but referee Mark Clattenburg ordered a re-take for encroachment by Gayle, only for the France midfielder to beat Adrian for a second time from the spot.

The closing 20 minutes of the first half were, if anything, more thrilling than the opening 25, despite the lack of further goals.

For West Ham, Lanzini, Sakho and former Palace star Victor Moses all saw efforts fly narrowly past Hennessey’s upright, while Zaha passed up a wonderful opportunity to score after Puncheon had led a trademark Palace counter-attack.

In the midst of all the chances, Gayle was booked for a late lunge on Payet. When he followed that with a sliding challenge into the ankle of Cheikhou Kouyate a minute before the break, the striker was shown a second yellow and sent from the field by Mr Clattenburg.

After such an eventful opening 45 minutes, it was no surprise that the second half failed to produce the same excitement as the first – until the final three minutes and added time!

Indeed, aside from Diafra Sakho hitting the outside of the post with a downward header from a Jenkinson cross, the Hammers failed to work Hennessey as much as Bilic would have liked.

Too often, West Ham’s attacks were directed through the heart of the massed Palace defence and either floundered or ended with a long-range shot being blocked or flying off-target.

Kouyate saw one well-struck shot from distance charged down by Scott Dann, while substitutes Andy Carroll and Mauro Zarate both produced efforts that failed to trouble Wales stopper Hennessey.

Down to ten men, Palace played on the counter, but fashioned next to nothing in terms of clear-cut chances. As it was, Puncheon’s wayward curler just after the break was as close as they came to snatching an unlikely victory.

As time began to run out, West Ham finally made their breakthrough. Zarate crossed high to the far post, Carroll headed down and a third replacement, Nikica Jelavic, poked goalward. The ball was blocked but Lanzini was on hand to smash home from eight yards.

Then, to add gloss to the final scoreline, Zarate combined with fellow countryman Lanzini, who threaded a perfect through ball for the inimitable Payet, who dummied Hennessey before nonchalantly clipping the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

The final whistle was blown seconds later, met with loud cheers from the 2,900-strong Claret and Blue Army, who cheered their heroes from the pitch with a chorus of ‘There’s only one Slaven Bilic’.

Next up are Jose Mourinho and his champions Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground...

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Kelly, Hangeland, Dann (c), Souare, McArthur (Jedinak 63), Cabaye (Ledley 77), Bolasie, Zaha (Sako 46), Puncheon, Gayle
Subs not used: McCarthy, Delaney, Bamford, Campbell

Goals: Cabaye (25, pen)

Yellow cards: Gayle (32)
Red cards: Gayle (44)
West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble (c) (Carroll 62), Moses (Zarate 74), Lanzini, Payet, Sakho (Jelavic 85)
Subs not used: Randolph, Ogbonna, Obiang, Valencia

Goals: Jenkinson (22), Lanzini (88), Payet (90+4)

Yellow cards: Tomkins (20), Payet (40), Jelavic (90+3)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Attendance: 24,812 (2,881 from West Ham United)