West Ham beaten by last-minute winner against Eagles in London derby clash
PUBLISHED: 17:22 26 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 26 December 2019
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The Hammers throw away another lead as Crystal Palace take all three points
Crystal Palace 2 West Ham United 1
Following their 12 Days of Christmas break, the Hammers saw the ghost of festive times past return to haunt them at Selhurst Park, where Palace followed up October's last-gasp victory at London Stadium with another dramatic late winner in this Boxing Day encounter.
Robert Snodgrass had given Manuel Pellegrini's side the lead with his third goal of the season as the hour-mark approached but former West Ham United midfielder Cheikhou Kouyaté levelled on 68 minutes before Jordan Ayew swooped to snatch victory for the Eagles in the dying moments.
With his side left in 17th spot just one point clear of the drop-zone, it was a telling blow for Pellegrini who - with neither Lukasz Fabianski nor David Martin overcoming their hip injuries - had also needed to hand the much-maligned Roberto the gloves, while 19-year-old rookie, Joseph Anang took his place in the dug-out for the first time.
In the opening moments, the Spanish stopper had waywardly booted into touch and, when the Eagles won the first corner of the afternoon after just five minutes, bereft of confidence, Roberto only succeeded in punching poorly to Max Meyer, who was equally as careless with his 18-yarder that flew high and wide.
The visiting fans packed into the stand to their goalkeeper's left sensed that they were in for a nail-biting afternoon at the back, but he would grow into the game and make some valuable stops, while on the opposite touchline, Pellegrini was also seeing the threat of Wifried Zaha up close and personal as he produced a couple of telling bursts past the technical areas and deep into the West Ham territory.
As well as switching keepers, the Hammers boss had also been forced to make another change from the side that had won at Southampton last time out, with the suspended Ryan Fredericks being replaced by Pablo Zabaleta, whose compatriot Manuel Lanzini had, at least, returned to the bench after recovering from his dislocated shoulder.
Kicking off in 12th-spot, four places and four points above the Hammers, Palace also made a couple of changes from the side that had lost at Newcastle United at the weekend, as Mamadou Sakho and Max Meyer came in for Christian Benteke and substitute James McCarthy.
With the opening half-hour largely played out in midfield, goal chances were scarce but the zippy Zaha's control and pace almost broke the deadlock, when he brilliantly plucked the ball out of the south London skies before advancing and sending a low pass into the danger-zone, where Meyer's return cross back into the six-yard box only needed a surer stud from the sliding Ayew.
In reply, Michail Antonio then forced the hitherto redundant Vicente Guaita to hold his ambitious 20-yard effort, before then curling another long-ranger high over the top just moments later and the Palace keeper then had a Roberto moment, when he failed to hold a high ball under pressure from Sébastien Haller, but Robert Snodgrass was crowded out as he attempted to capitalise on the unguarded goal.
Following a goalless opening 45 minutes, there was an all-action start to the second period, when Ayew outmuscled an angry Aaron Cresswell before advancing forward and unleashing a low angled shot that Roberto confidently beat aside for a corner.
Cresswell was not the only angry Hammer, for skipper Mark Noble - his armband flapping in the Selhurst Park breeze - had to be held back by his team-mates as he angrily berated Angelo Ogbonna, shortly before Luka Milivojević whipped a 20-yarder inches over the top.
But it was smiles all round on 57 minutes, when Antonio danced his way from left to right across the front of the Palace defence, before slotting an inch-perfect pass behind Patrick van Aanholt, who could only look on as Snodgrass curled a fabulous 15-yard, left-footer past the outstretched right palm of Guaita and inside the left-hand upright to give West Ham an unlikely lead.
Lanzini then replaced Pablo Formals, while the dejected van Aanholt hobbled away as Jairo Riedewald stepped from the bench shortly afterwards and, with both substitutes still finding their feet, the Hammers joy at breaking the deadlock disappeared on 68 minutes.
Having made his way in from the left-wing, James McArthur sent over a deep cross that Ayew met with a deftly-cushioned header and Kouyaté arrived on the scene with perfect timing to half-volley past Roberto from eight yards and net his first goal of the season before commendably returning to the halfway line with minimal fuss.
Felipe Anderson came on for Haller, while Connor Wickham replaced Meyer and the Palace substitute quickly found himself with the opportunity to seal the points as he broke clean away but the helplessly exposed Roberto stood big and tall before getting down low to block.
It looked like the Spaniard would end up being the hero of the afternoon with that save but, as stoppage time loomed, there was one, final cruel twist that saw the Eagles snatch a dramatic late winner as Ayew twisted and turned his way between Declan Rice, Fabián Balbuena and Ogbonna to leave himself with just Roberto to beat and he secured victory with a deft chip over the advancing Spaniard.
HAMMERS: Roberto, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Rice, Noble, Snodgrass (Ajeti 90+1), Fornals (Lanzini 58), Antonio, Haller (Anderson 75) Unused subs: Anang, Sánchez, Diop, Masuaku,
EAGLES: Guaita, Kelly, van Aanholt (Riedewald 65), Kouyaté (McCarthy 88), Tomkins, Sakho, Milivojević, McArthur, Meyer (Wickham 75), Zaha, Ayew. Unused subs: Hennessey, Camarasa, Woods, Keutcha.
Booked: Zabaleta (89), Cresswell (90+2)
Referee: Andre Marriner