Hammers blast their way to six wins in a row
Crystal Palace 2-3 West Ham United
West Ham United extended their winning streak to a sixth game with an exhilarating, dominant performance at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
Tomáš Souček scored twice and Craig Dawson added a third in the second half, as the visitors shrugged off the blow of Wilfried Zaha’s third minute goal in style.
In truth, they could have scored more than the three goals they managed – forcing 17 shots on the Palace goal and slicing their hosts open almost at will, but three proved to be enough even though Michy Batshuayi pulled one back right at the death.
That was little more than a minor irritant on a night when the Hammers moved up to fourth in the Premier League table.
West Ham had to come from behind to secure a result when they drew 1-1 with the same opponents a little over a month ago, and they were asked to do the same again after Zaha fired the hosts into an early lead.
Łukasz Fabiański was given no chance by Zaha’s powerful finish, as the Palace man found the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the box, after Christian Benteke’s neat flick from Luka Milivojević fizzed-in pass created the chance to shoot.
As the rain teemed down in south London, West Ham’s response was immediate and they levelled with just nine minutes on the clock.
So many times already this season Souček has popped up with vital goals and it was the case again at Selhurst Park, as he arrived inside the six yard box to head powerfully home after Antonio showed great desire to keep Pablo Fornals’ pass in at the by-line and poke back into the middle.
Souček wasn’t finished there and, with 25 minutes played, he struck again to move his team in front.
Aaron Cresswell was the provider, sending in a free-kick from the left-hand side that was just too high for Antonio. No matter, as Souček was there to control on his thigh and squeeze home at the near post.
Straight from kick-off it was so nearly three, as Antonio intercepted a square pass from Cheikhou Kouyaté and strode through on goal. His strike beat Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal, but thudded against the inside of the post and out to safety.
Still the Hammers pressed as they looked for a third, and after Souček and Pablo Fornals both forced Guaita into saves from range, Antonio hit the post for a second time.
The No30 was desperately unlucky to see his instinctive effort clatter the same upright after the visitors attacked down the right, and Fornals stepped over Saïd Benrahma’s cut-back to allow Cresswell to strike at goal.
West Ham deserved to lead by more than one at the break, but they were indebted to Fabiański for keeping them in front right at the start of the second period.
The visitors were caught square as Eberechi Eze sent Zaha clear, but the visitors’ goalkeeper closed down the angles swiftly to block with his chest.
It was a big moment to keep the momentum in the Hammers’ favour, and they soon picked up from where they left off at the end of the first half, putting the Palace goal under near-constant pressure.
Antonio was cursing his luck again on 59 minutes when Guaita showed remarkable reactions to keep out his close range effort, after again being teed up by Benrahma.
David Moyes’ men finally got the third goal they so richly deserved midway through the half, as they won a couple of corners on the right flank.
Jarrod Bowen’s delivery from the second of them was perfect, as he whipped the ball in towards the near post, where Dawson’s run was timed to perfection and the header was unstoppable.
Palace were never likely to find a route back from there, and although Batshuayi did pull one back, finishing from inside the box after Jordan Ayew found him, it came far too late to affect the outcome.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Kouyate, Mitchell, Townsend (Batshuayi 66), Milivojevic (Riedewald 73), McArthur, Eze, Zaha, Benteke (Ayew 73)
Subs: Butland, van Aanholt, Dann, Clyne, McCarthy, Kelly
Goals: Zaha 3, Batshuayi 90+7
West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Fredericks 81), Benrahma (Noble 87), Fornals, Antonio (Yarmolenko 83)
Subs: Martin, Johnson, Balbuena, Diop. Lanzini, Odubeko
Goals: Souček 8, 25, Dawson 65
Referee: Stuart Attwell