West Ham pegged back by Zaha strike after half-time lead
PUBLISHED: 17:08 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 09 February 2019
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The Hammers were in front through Mark Noble’s penalty at Selhurst Park but couldn’t cling on
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham United 1
It was honours even down at the Palace, where the Hammers battled their way to their second determined, dogged draw inside the space of six days.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men dominated the opening period to go in at the break with their noses in front after Mark Noble had netted his first goal of the season from the penalty spot as the half-hour mark approached.
But the Eagles finally found their wings in the second half and, with the Palace pressure mounting, Wilfried Zaha duly equalised with a quarter-hour remaining.
Following a harrowing hat-trick of awful away defeats, the Hammers had also fought their way to a confidence-boosting draw against table-topping Liverpool on Monday night and, as Manuel’s men hit the road again, the Chilean named an unchanged side, which meant that Marko Arnautović had to settle for a spot on the bench.
With a deluge of rain falling on blustery, soggy, Selhurst Park just before kick-off, both sides struggled to get into their stride during the opening exchanges, but as the quarter-hour mark approached both Ryan Fredericks and Robert Snodgrass forced Palace keeper Vincente Guaita to block their angled, close-range shots in quick succession.
The Eagles’ victory over Fulham last weekend had seen them kick-off in 14th spot - two places and six points below West Ham - and, after that victory over the struggling Cottagers, Roy Hodgson made two switches as Zaha and Martin Kelly came in for substitute Jordan Ayew and injured ex-Hammer, James Tomkins (calf).
After forcing a couple of corners, Zaha then played in the unmarked James McArthur, who – with the whites of Lukasz Fabianski’s eyes in his sights – saw the Hammers keeper deny him with a superb, left-handed stop to the disbelief of the Palace midfielder.
At the other end, Hernández also found himself within shooting range but Mamadou Sakho threw himself at the Mexican’s effort to send the ball to safety.
On 27 minutes, though, West Ham did finally break the deadlock, when Felipe Anderson’s free-kick was only half-cleared by the home defence and, when Declan Rice lobbed the ball back into the mix, Guaita clumsily bundled over Michail Antonio 12 yards out, leaving referee Craig Pawson pointing instantly to the spot.
That left ever-dependable, skipper Noble to fire the 32nd successful penalty of his Hammers career into the bottom left-hand corner as culprit Guaita headed off in the opposite direction to the joy of the Claret & Blue fans making the trip to south London.
In reply, Christian Benteke saw Fabianski deny him an equaliser with another sensational stop, while in a clash of the Aarons, Wan-Bissaka was booked for a spiteful slide into Cresswell, before Hernández let fly with a rare long-range rocket that Guaita held at the second attempt and, just before the break, there was more agony for the Mexican marksman, when Luka Milivojevic raked his calf at the expense of a deserved caution.
McArthur also saw yellow for slicing fellow Scot Snodgrass just before interval and, soon after the restart, there was yet more misery for the Glaswegian, who was guilty of one of the misses of the season when he ghosted behind the Hammers defence and sat the helplessly exposed Fabianski on his backside.
But with the entire goal gaping at his mercy, McArthur somehow curled wide of the left-hand upright from just three yards to the astonishment of everyone inside Selhurst Park, who expected to see the mere formality of the net bulging.
Shortly afterwards, Patrick van Aahholt sent a 20-yard volley dipping just inches over Fabianski’s crossbar, while Milivojevic was fortunate to escape a second booking of the afternoon for an ill-judged, ill-timed scythe on Noble.
On the hour, Michy Batshuayi – who turned down a deadline-day move to the Hammers – replaced Benteke and, within eight minutes of his arrival, the on-loan striker followed McArthur by wastefully sweeping wide from close range.
With the Palace pressure mounting, Arnautović stepped from the bench to replace Hernández, ahead of Pedro Obiang coming on for Antonio but with a quarter-hour remaining the Eagles swooped for the equaliser they had been searching for.
After being played in by van Aanholt down the left, Zaha saw his first attempt ricochet off Snodgrass into the path of McArthur, who patiently returned the ball to the Palace wide-boy on the edge of the six-yard box.
Zaha looked to have dragged to ball too tight to the byline but somehow he managed to send his acutely angled shot onto Issa Diop’s toes, inside the near post and high into the roof of the net to level with his fifth goal of the campaign and leave both sides settling for a point apiece.
EAGLES: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, van Aanholt, Kelly, Sakho, Milivojevic, McArthur (Meyer 79), Schlupp, Townsend, Zaha, Benteke (Batshuayi 59). Unused subs: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Ayew, Sako.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Fredericks (Zabaleta 83), Cresswell, Diop, Ogbonna, Rice, Noble, Snodgrass, Antonio (Obiang 72), Anderson, Hernández (Arnautović 69). Unused subs: Adrián, Carroll, Masuaku, Diangana.
Booked: Wan-Bissaka (34), Milivojevic (44), McArthur (45)
Referee: Craig Pawson.