West Ham denied victory by late, late West Brom equaliser
PUBLISHED: 17:16 11 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:18 11 February 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers looked like they had won with a late Lanzini goal only to be pegged back
west Ham United 2 West Bromwich Albion 2
The claret and blue fans rode a roller-coaster of emotion on a controversial afternoon at the freezing London Stadium, where they saw the Hammers come from behind to take an 86th minute lead, before the Baggies broke their hearts with a late, late leveller.
Nacer Chadli bagged a debatable opener for the visitors with just half-a-dozen minutes on the clock, before Sofiane Feghouli – who had a first-half effort ruled out for offside – equalised with his third goal for West Ham on the hour-mark.
And although Manuel Lanzini looked to have secured a late victory with a 25-yarder, Albion’s Gareth McAuley scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give the vistors a point.
Slaven Bilić’s boys had made it six wins in nine outings with their first-ever victory at St Mary’s Stadium last Saturday, but the Hammers boss was forced to make an enforced change to the side that sank Southampton as Lanzini came in for the injured Andy Carroll (groin).
Albion’s victory over Stoke City last weekend had seen them kick-off in eighth-spot, one place and five points above the Hammers and, following that 1-0 win over his former club, Tony Pulis had named an unchanged side.
And within six minutes, West Ham found themselves trailing in controversial circumstances, when Chris Brunt bundled over Feghouli in full view of referee Michael Oliver, who curiously allowed play to continue.
That enabled James Morrison – on the edge of the area - to slip the ball to Chadli and he easily ghosted past the statuesque Cheikhou Kouyaté before drilling a low, angled eight-yarder between the legs of the despairing Darren Randolph to claim his fifth goal of the season.
And after José Fonte rose highest in an effort to meet a curling 30-yard free kick that Ben Foster frantically fisted aside for a corner, the Baggies might even have doubled their lead when Salomon Rondón’s 25-yarder rattled Randolph’s bar on the quarter-hour mark.
But having seen Albion open the scoring in dubious circumstances, there was to be yet controversy shortly afterwards, when another Snodgrass free-kick arrived in the six-yard box, where frantic, frenzied Albion only half-cleared and, when the ball was played back into the mix, Feghouli diverted the ball into the net as Craig Dawson lay prone on the six-yard line.
West Ham’s joy was cut short by an offside and, with the visiting centre-half receiving lengthy treatment, no amount of persuasion from the haranguing Hammers was going to change the officials’ minds, while Bilić’s assistant Nikola Jurcevic was duly sent to the stands for joining in the protests down by the corner flag,
Michail Antonio then had a bundled effort scrambled off the line by Matt Phillips after Foster fumbled Lanzini’s corner and then Snodgrass went down under Jake Livermore’s challenge but referee Oliver refused to point to the spot as he brought a first-half full of frustration to an end.
Aaron Cresswell failed to appear for the restart as Jonathan Calleri stepped into the fray with Winston Reid shuffling out to left-back and Pedro Obiang dropping into central defence.
Evans also replaced goal-scorer Chadli on 53 minutes and, shortly afterwards, Obiang was booked for tripping Rondón as the West Ham’s woes continued.
But with 63 minutes on the clock, Bilić was finally leaping with joy, celebrating a long-overdue Hammers equaliser.
Collecting the ball 25 yards out, Lanzini strode forward and let fly with a ferocious shot that the flying Foster tipped on to the crossbar, but with the grounded Baggies keeper now stranded, the alert Feghouli was first on the scene to slot home the loose ball from six yards.
That was exactly the boost that West Ham needed and they might even have taken the lead, when Calleri’s low, angled shot was parried by Foster, who saw Dawson scramble clear as Lanzini raced in for the kill, while Fonte also scuffed wide from range.
With just four minutes remaining, though, that man Feghouli, who had been involved in every noteworthy incident of the afternoon, cut in from the right before rolling the ball across the face of the Albion defence and Lanzini curled what looked to be a match-winning 25-yarder around both substitute Claudio Yacob and McAuley to give Hammers a late, late lead.
Still this contest was not over, though, and with four minutes of stoppage time on the clock, James Morrison whipped over a deep corner that substitute Evans nodded down for McAuley to touch home and give Albion a last-gasp leveller to the fury of the ballistic Bilić, who was also sent from the technical area.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Kouyaté, Cresswell (Calleri h/t), Fonte, Reid, Noble, Obiang, Feghouli (Collins 90+1) Snodgrass (Fernandes 87), Lanzini, Antonio. Unused subs: Adrián, Nordtveit, Byram, Fletcher.
BAGGIES: Foster, Nyom, Brunt, Dawson, McAuley, Fletcher, Livermore, Phillips (Robson-Kanu 67), Morrison (Yacob 79), Chadli (Evans 53) Rondón. Unused subs: Myhill, Olsson, Wilson, McClean.
Booked: Obiang (60), Rondón (73), Reid (85), Brunt (88)
Referee: Michael Oliver
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