West Ham sunk by another Murray strike
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers piled on the pressure in the second half but couldn’t force a draw
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 West Ham United 0
This was certainly no Brighton beano for West Ham United, who ended up shipwrecked on a disappointing night down by the seaside.
After their three-match, unbeaten Premier League run – plus an emphatic eight-goal Carabao Cup victory - Manuel Pellegrini’s men had every reason to arrive on the South Coast filled with optimism.
But Glenn Murray’s 24th-minute winner sunk the Hammers to send the soaring Seagulls leapfrogging over them in the table on an evening when the East Enders failed to turn chances and possession into goals.
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These teams had experienced vastly contrasting fortunes against the two Manchester teams last weekend and, coming into this Friday night encounter in 14th spot - one place and two points above the Seagulls - Manuel Pellegrini had predictably named an unchanged eleven after Saturday’s wonderful win over United.
But following his side’s defeat at table-topping City, former Hammer Chris Hughton made a trio of changes as Murray, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and skipper Bruno were recalled into the home line-up in place of Martin Montoya plus substitutes Jurgen Locadia and Yves Bissouma.
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And, although Marko Arnautovi? won an early corner, it was Brighton, who started brighter as the lively Anthony Knockært forced Lukasz Fabianski into an early, low save, before whipping another awkward free-kick into the danger-zone.
As the quarter-hour mark neared, Felipe Anderson’s corner kick to the edge of the area was intelligently left by Andriy Yarmolenko but when Arnautovi? sent a swivelling, 18-yard volley goalwards, Murray deflected the effort behind, while Fabian Balbuena also directed his header wide.
Anderson’s pace and poise was unsettling an edgy Brighton side, who conceded a trio of quick-fire flag-kicks but just as the Hammers looked to be edging their way towards an opener, it was Hughton’s team who broke the deadlock.
On 24 minutes, Yarmolenko was robbed on the halfway line by Beram Kayal and, when Knockært returned the loose ball to the breaking Israeli international, he sent over a deep, left-wing cross that was cleverly stabbed home from six yards by the unmarked Murray, who had spirited himself away from Arthur Masuaku to claim his fifth goal of the campaign.
Buoyed by his side’s opener, Jahanbakhsh then sent Fabianski diving across goal to save his low 20-yarder, before Pedro Obiang volleyed Pablo Zabaleta’s cut-back over the bar, while Yarmolenko also forced Maty Ryan into another stop.
With the Hammers desperately trying to claw their way back into the contest, Shane Duffy was booked for tripping the escaping Arnautovi? but Jahanbakhsh should have doubled the home advantage just before the break, but he wastefully blasted one towards Brighton Pier from just 10 yards.
Just after the restart, clever claret and blue interplay climaxed with an angled Arnautovi? shot, which Ryan smothered and then the alert Anderson saw a similar attempt deflected across the face of goal to safety.
With the temperature rising, Arnautovi? was cautioned for a spiteful lunge on Kayal, while Jahanbakhsh also saw yellow for felling Yarmolenko and, after Balbuena had a couple of scrambled half-chances to level, Michail Antonio replaced Obiang for the final half-hour.
Kayal found his name going into referee Kevin Friend’s notebook, too, for trying to swap shirts with Anderson and, midway through the second period Lucas Pérez replaced Yarmolenko, while José Izquierdo came on for Jahanbakhsh.
Murray deposited a header on to the roof of Fabianski’s net as the tide ebbed and flowed from end to end and, with his final roll of the dice, Pellegrini introduced Robert Snodgrass at the expense of Mark Noble for the closing stages but the only mark that the consequently cautioned Scottish substitute would make was on Gaetan Bong’s shin.
With the game moving into stoppage time, the Hammers conjured up one final chance to rescue a draw, but Arnautovi? uncharacteristically blasted high over from just eight yards to send Pellegrini’s men back home from the coast pointless.
SEAGULLS: Ryan, Bruno, Bong, Duffy, Dunk, Knockært, March (Locadia 85), Pröpper (Bissouma 79), Jahanbakhsh (Izquierdo 70), Kayal, Murray. Unused subs: Button, Andone, Balogun, Bernardo.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Masuaku, Balbuena, Diop, Rice, Noble (Snodgrass 82), Obiang (Antonio 59), Anderson, Yarmolenko (Pérez 69), Arnautovi?. Unused subs: Adrián, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Fredericks.
Booked: Duffy (33), Arnautovi? (56), Jahanbakhsh (57), Kayal (61)
Referee: Kevin Friend.