West Ham United 2-2 Norwich City

Barclays Premier League 
West Ham United 2-2 Norwich City

Cheikhou Kouyate struck a dramatic late equaliser to earn West Ham United a share of the spoils in a topsy-turvy affair with Norwich City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. 

Alex Neil’s Canaries drew first blood when Robbie Brady capitalised on a Mark Noble mistake to fire the visitors in front, before Diafra Sakho drew the Hammers level from a Dimitri Payet centre. 

England stopper John Ruddy pulled off a fine second-half stop to deny Sakho his second, while the excellent Adrian did likewise from both Jonny Howson and Cameron Jerome. 

Substitute Nathan Redmond restored the visitors’ advantage with little more than five minutes to play, only for Kouyate to have the final word, smashing home from point-blank range in the third minute of added time.         

Slaven Bilic made just one change from the side that shocked Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League last weekend, with the fit-again Kouyate replacing Pedro Obiang in the heart of the Hammers midfield.     

The Hammers had an early warning when an unmarked Jerome nodded tamely at Adrian within 60 seconds. 

For West Ham, after two corners in quick succession came to nought, Kouyate tested Ruddy. Payet’s free-kick cannoned off the No8’s midriff forcing the England stopper into a smart save to his left. 

But the Hammers were soon behind. With nine on the clock, Noble sold James Tomkins short with a misjudged square ball. Brady nipped in, beating a sliding Tomkins to it, and finished low and hard beyond Adrian.  

It may very well have got worse. Steven Whittaker had time and space at the back post to cut back inside onto his left foot, though thankfully Victor Moses blocked behind. 

Then, still inside 20 minutes, Howson controlled with his chest in the box before slamming an angled drive narrowly over the top. Adrian was at full stretch.   
Still the visitors created chances. This time Brady played in Jerome down the left and the No10 screwed it into the side netting. He should have done better.   

At the other end, Kouyate did brilliantly out on the right touchline to turn away from trouble and feed Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine opted to try his luck from 25 yards but Ruddy saw it well wide of his left-hand upright. 

But Ruddy was helpless moments later to prevent the leveller. Payet raced away down the right and his cut-back evaded Norwich legs and fell perfectly for Sakho, who gleefully swept home. 

It prompted a West Ham onslaught. Lanzini’s free-kick sped just past the post and the former River Plate man then saw a low drive deflected inches past the upright via Russell Martin.  

Then Ruddy came racing off his line to punch clear but got nowhere near it. It fell to Sakho who, under pressure, hooked over the top. All square at the break but a half, very distinctly, of two halves.     

The opening minutes of the second had a rather more sedate feel about them, at least until Howson took aim from the edge of the D. It took Adrian fingertips to keep the scores level. 

West Ham, however, should have completed the turnaround and Sakho should have had his second. Moses’ right-wing cross was inch perfect for the Hammers’ goalscorer, whose header from six yards was repelled by Ruddy. An off-balance Kouyate’s effort on the rebound was wild. 

On the hour, Sakho came away with it and squared to Payet on the right-edge of the box. The Frenchman’s touch to hurdle Brady’s challenge was sublime and his low shot would have nestled in the corner but for Ruddy’s outstretched left arm.  

Back came the Canaries. Howson got to the by-line and his centre was met clean on the volley by an on-rushing Jerome. Adrian made himself big and took it full in the face. Painful but vital.  

With nothing to separate the sides, Bilic threw on Andy Carroll in place of Lanzini. Norwich, however, continued to threaten and Martin’s glancing header drifted over, but only just.     

Norwich hit the front for a second time with little more than five minutes of regulation time to play courtesy of a virtuoso effort from Redmond. Collecting his own corner, he jinked his way into the area before dispatching a low drive beyond Adrian and into the far corner.  

But West Ham would have the final say. Ruddy’s punch from Payet’s free-kick cannoned straight into the head of Carroll and there was Kouyate, perfectly placed to blast home and earn the Hammers a late, late, point at the Boleyn Ground.  

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble (c) (Zarate 85), Lanzini (Carroll 72), Payet, Moses (Obiang 57), Sakho
Subs: Randolph, Collins, Antonio, Jelavic. 

Goals: Sakho 34, 90+3

Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Brady, Tettey, Howson, Dorrans (Redmond 70), Olsson, Hoolahan (O’Neil 85), Jerome (Mbokani 64) 
Subs: Rudd, Wisdom, R.Bennett, Grabban 

Goals: Brady 9, Redmond 84  

Referee: Mike Dean