West Ham United came from behind to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
A well-struck Saïd Benrahma penalty cancelled out Ollie Watkins’ early header at London Stadium, before second-half chances to record consecutive home wins came and went for the Hammers.
The best of those opportunities fell to Benrahma too, who was twice denied a second of the afternoon by Martinez, before a last-ditch block by Ashley Young produced the same result.
The Hammers though were unable to record a third straight league double over the visitors and had to settle for a point.
The contest started tamely and as Villa dominated possession the visitors took the lead. In truth it was far too easy, Watkins peeled off Nayef Aguerd to head home a cross from Álex Moreno. The left-back was given far too much time to drive forward, look up, and then assist the opening goal on 17 minutes. The Hammers would have to come from behind – again.
As such, West Ham needed to regroup quickly, and, led by a sequence of driving runs from Bowen, they did just that. The England forward skipped past Moreno and Jacob Ramsey to win a corner, which brought the Irons’ equaliser nine minutes after Villa moved in front.
The set-piece saw Watkins clear a Paquetá strike that bounced off the turf and looked to have found the net, before Leon Bailey was caught-out following a half-clearance and fouled the Brazil midfielder. Referee Chris Kavanagh had no choice but to point to the spot, awarding the Hammers’ seventh penalty of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Stepping up, Benrahma was clinical from 12 yards. His 20th strike in Claret and Blue was old-school, Julian Dicks-esque, the Algerian left the net rattling as he arrowed home the leveller emphatically.
From that moment on, Benrahma continued to lead the attack as the match ticked past the half- hour mark. A whipped cross from the wide right by the No22 almost saw Kurt Zouma head home a Hammers’ second but the French defender at full-stretch could only guide the ball past the post. The Algerian later almost had a second of his own too, but striking from distance his effort was well-held by Emiliano Martínez, before he then had another go. This time, he rifled well over the bar, however.
A minute’s applause observed in memory of Dylan Tombides with 38 minutes played might have been capped with the Hammers moving in front. As the clock ticked to into the final seconds of a poignant commemoration of the former Hammer, Benrahma almost tapped home. Villa escaped though.
And while the visitors would have restored their lead before the break had Alphonse Areola not made a stunning save to deny Watkins, it was the Hammers who were quickest out of the blocks in the second half.
Twenty seconds after the restart, Benrahma was at it again. Bowen drove past Moreno and found Paquetá, whose looped cross volley was sent straight at Martínez by the Algerian from close range. The pattern for the second half was set, the Hammers well in the ascendency, as chances continued to fall to the east Londoners.
First, Ings found Paquetá, but the Brazil midfielder's cross skipped across the six-yard box without a teammate to tap it home, before Benrahma dropped his shoulder, and created space, to only strike over the bar. A Rice corner almost found Emerson at the back post too. The Hammers just could not find the net.
In the final twenty minutes of the match petered to its conclusion. Neither side was able to grab a grasp of a game that played out with a slow tempo. At one point, Bowen looked to change that when his cross found Fornals, but the Spaniard was off balance and his effort looped over. Benrahma then almost snatched three points. Fornals was again involved to find Benrahma, whose shot was blocked by Young.
The Hammers saw a final chance to take the points as Cornet burst through on goal. Making his first league appearance since October, the No14 was unable to find the net, albeit from an offside position, as a point extended the Irons unbeaten run over Villa to ten matches.
West Ham United: Areola, Kehrer, Aguerd, Zouma, Emerson, Rice ©, Souček, Paquetá (Fornals 77), Bowen, Ings (Cornet 86), Benrahma
Subs not used: Anang (GK), Johnson, Ogbonna, Downes, Cresswell, Lanzini, Scamacca
Goals: Benrahma 26 (pen)
Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash (Young 80), Konsa, Mings, Moreno (Digne 64), Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, McGinn ©, Buendía (Duran 80), Bailey (Traoré 64), Watkins (Chambers 85)
Subs not used: Olsen (GK), Sisisalo (GK), Carlos
Goals: Watkins 17
Referee: Chris Kavanagh