Hammers fight back to claim Brighton draw
West Ham United 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
West Ham United had to twice come from behind to earn a point against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon, with Ben Johnson and Tomas Soucek cancelling out Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk’s strikes for the Seagulls.
David Moyes’ men recovered from a sluggish first half performance to ensure they wouldn’t hand Brighton a festive present after Maupay took advantage of their sleepy defending to hook home on the stroke of half time.
Johnson slammed home after being teed up by half-time sub Manuel Lanzini to bring his team level on the hour, only for Dunk to re-establish the advantage for his side 20 minutes from time.
Brighton have struggled to turn performances into victories this season though, and Soucek’s equaliser on 82 minutes means they are still on the lookout for a third Premier League win of the campaign.
Brighton employ a possession-based game and dominated the ball in the opening period, without either team finding the tempo necessary to open their opponents up on a regular basis.
West Ham forced four first half corners without creating a clear-cut chance, while Lukasz Fabianski was the busier goalkeeper.
The home No1 had to make routine saves to stop a header from Adam Webster and field a low Solly March drive, while the Hammers were guilty of being too passive in their approach before the break and that was evident for the opening goal on 44 minutes.
Vladimir Coufal was left one-on-two against March and Dan Burn, allowing the former to pass to the latter. He crossed low to Maupay, and although his first touch got away from him, Declan Rice’s attempted interception only served to return the ball to the Brighton forward, and he took full advantage by firing home on the turn first time.
Moyes responded by making a double change at the break, bringing Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko on for Mark Noble and Jarrod Bowen, and the Argentine played a central role in helping his side to level on the hour.
He had already got his team on the ball in dangerous areas more often and reacted well to nudge Yarmolenko’s cross back to Johnson, who showed admirable calm in front of goal, lofting into the top right hand corner of Robert Sanchez’s net.
West Ham would only be on level terms for ten minutes, however, as Brighton moved back in front in their first real moment of menace after the break.
Leandro Trossard took a corner short to March, and as the Hammers organised themselves, the Brighton man delivered quickly. Dunk blocked Soucek’s attempted clearing header and pounced on the loose ball to fire into the roof of the net.
VAR checked for a handball against the Seagulls centre-back, but could not find a reason to disallow the goal and West Ham had to come again.
To their credit they did keep their heads up and used a corner themselves to level for the second time eight minutes from the end.
Soucek has become such a threat for the Hammers on set pieces and he was the man on the spot to notch the second equaliser, powering home a header from close in after Cresswell’s delivery flicked off Dunk’s head and flew perfectly into the Czech midfielder’s path.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Coufal, Soucek, Rice, Johnson, Noble (Lanzini 46), Bowen (Yarmolenko 46), Haller
Subs: Randolph, Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Snodgrass, Fornals, Benrahma
Goals: Johnson 60, Soucek 82
Brighton & Hove Albion: Sanchez, Webster, Dunk, Burn, White, Bissouma, Lallana (Alzate 46), March, Trossard, Maupay (Jahanbaksh 90), Welbeck (Gross 83)
Subs: Steele, Bernardo, Veltman, Mac Allister, Propper, Zeqiri
Goals: Maupay 44, Dunk 70
Referee: Simon Hooper