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Match Reports

Report: West Ham United 1-1 Crystal Palace

30 January 2018

Palace picked up their first ever point at the London Stadium as Christian Benteke netted for the second time this season to earn a draw against West Ham United.

In a game that won’t live long in the memory, Roy Hodgson’s team took the lead when the Belgian striker connected with an Andros Townsend cross on 24 minutes, but three minutes before half-time the hosts levelled through Mark Noble’s penalty, ensuring a share of the spoils in east London.

A shaky opening 10 minutes from the visitors allowed Joao Mario to scuff wide early into his league debut, and only a fantastic last-ditch sliding challenge by James Tomkins prevented Javier Hernandez from firing home the opener after a Sam Byram cross found its way into the Mexican marksman’s path.

But whilst it took 24 minutes to arrive, the Eagles’ first opportunity was worth the wait. Andros Townsend received a Luka Milivojevic pass on the halfway line and charged goalwards, teasing Declan Rice as he edged closer. Finding an extra yard of pace, he went past the young defender and stood up a cross that was begging to be attacked, and Benteke obliged by driving a powerful header past the helpless Adrian to net his second of the campaign.

A quiet half then saw Angelo Ogbonna head over a corner before Milivojevic blasted wide, but the game’s staccato nature wasn’t helped by a strange four minute delay that saw Bakary Sako injured in a challenge with Pablo Zabaleta, receive lengthy treatment and then immediately go straight back down upon his reintroduction, leading to his early withdrawal.

The stoppage seemed to affect Palace’s rhythm, and moments later they found themselves level after West Ham grabbed a way back into the contest on 43 minutes. Unlike his previous challenge on Hernandez, this time Tomkins mistimed his attempt and brought down the diminutive striker to concede a penalty against his former side, allowing Noble to send Wayne Hennessey the wrong way from 12 yards.

During six minutes of first half stoppage-time, Townsend forced Adrian into a sprawling stop before James McArthur nodded just wide, and Milivojevic was narrowly off target with a powerful rising shot from the edge of the box with the final action but the Eagles couldn’t quite restore their advantage before the break.

And it was only thanks to a fine reaction save by Hennessey that things remained that way five minutes after the restart. Mario found Byram on the right who put a cross onto the head of Hernandez, but despite it being at point-blank range the Welshman managed to push it away to safety.

But as the rain began to pour, the second half quickly became a damp squib with both teams lacking in moments of quality to seriously trouble either goalkeeper.

A tame Patrick van Aanholt free-kick and a wild blast over the bar by Rice were the only chances of a dull second 45, which was littered with sloppy concessions of passing combined with a lack of attacking thrust from both sides, meaning the game petered out to its conclusion.

West Ham: Adrian, Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate (Oxford 86), Noble, Mario, Hernandez. Subs not used: Hart, Fonte, Cullen, Quina, Haksabanovic, Martinez.

Palace: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Townsend, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha, Sako (Cabaye 41), Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Ward, Souare, Sakho, Riedewald, Lee.

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