|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Brom fight back to win hard-earned point at West Ham
Paul Doyle at Upton Park
Date Published Sunday 29 November 2015 17.42 GMT
Rickie Lambert’s career seemed to be petering out at West Bromwich Albion but the 33-year-old proved that there is life in him yet, as he came off the bench to revive his team and help salvage a point that had looked improbable.
The 33-year-old has started only three Premier League games for Albion since tearing himself away from Liverpool in the summer in search of more action and, as with every game since early September, he started as a substituteat Upton Park. But with Albion grateful to be trailing only by one goal at half-time – an exquisite free-kick by Mauro Zárate – Lambert was thrust into the fray and created an equaliser within five minutes, his shot from 20 yards deflecting off Winston Reid and into the net.
“Rick is an absolutely wonderful professional,” said the Albion manager, Tony Pulis. “Since he’s joined the club he’s not played as much as he wanted and that’s my fault, not his. But his attitude to training is wonderful. He’s a real throwback to the times when footballers cared about football. He’s been a terrific signing to the club although he’ll say: ‘I haven’t played as much as I’d like.’”
The Albion players who did start here did not play much in the first half. West Ham dominated despite coming into the game on a downer, having failed to win in their previous three matches and lost Dmitri Payet to injury. And Albion clearly arrived with the intention of depressing them further, adopting the same stultifying approach that they tend to use on all their travels.
If you only ever watched West Brom away, you would deduce that Pulis’s wildest dream is an endless traffic jam. His team are not exactly expansive at home but away their game-plan is based around the erection of roadblocks. Sometimes it works – they had kept four clean sheets in their six away league prior to this – and it briefly threatened to pay off here, too, as the opening minutes were so dull that the crowd’s pre-match cheer was quickly forgotten.
But the home team soon brought the smiles back. In particular, Manuel Lanzini crackled with creativity, his movement and trickery trumping Albion’s spoiling tactics. Still, it took a fright to stoke West Ham into action, as Salomón Rondón almost capped a fleeting Albion attack with a goal in the 13th minute, his ferocious shot from the corner of the box fizzing just past the far post. Then West Ham took over, their running, passing and imagination making the visitors look like mere bouncers amid a whirr of party people.
When Gareth McAuley was sanctioned for being too forceful in his attempts to subdue Diafra Sakho in the 17th minute, Zárate stepped up and curled the free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards. Albion had not previously conceded a first-half goal away in the league this season but they should have been further behind before the break.
Cheikhou Kouyaté glanced a header wide from eight yards after an excellent cross from Aaron Cresswell. Lanzini then ambushed Claudio Yacob in midfield, jiggled forward and nearly bamboozled the goalkeeper from 25 yards, but Boaz Myhill managed to improvise a save with his feet. The goalkeeper foiled the same player again five minutes later. Albion were so impotent going forward that further misses before the interval by Sakho and Victor Moses did not necessarily look costly. But Albion went into the changing room and emerged transformed.
Pulis replaced Stéphane Sessègnon with Lambert rather than Saido Berahino. That decision was vindicated five minutes into the second half when Darren Fletcher chested the ball to Lambert and the striker unleashed a shot that wound up in the back of the net thanks to the unfortunate Reid. Suddenly the sides were trading blows, Albion giving at least as good as they were getting. Jonas Olsson had to make a timely tackle to prevent Sakho from turning in a fine cross by Cresswell, and Adrián then had to pull off a superb save to deny Rondón, who was poised to celebrate after meeting a cross from Fletcher with a powerful header.
Zárate tried to repeat his free-kick feat in the 63rd minute but this time Myhill pushed his shot away. That chance came via a counterattack, Albion having now established a degree of territorial superiority. But that did not necessarily perturb West Ham, who have the speed to cause trouble on the break. Moses led a lightning raid in the 71st minute, charging 50 yards forward before slipping the ball to Sakho, who let fly from 15 yards.
Olsson slid into to divert the shot into the side-netting. Sakho had to depart with a thigh injury after that. “It does not look good,” said the manager Slaven Bilic, noting that a long layoff for the Senegalese striker would be problematic given that Enner Valencia is also on the casualty list.
Olsson was in the way again in the 82nd minute, thwarting Andy Carroll, who, like Michail Antonio, was introduced to help West Ham’s quest for a first win since that rousing defeat of Chelsea more than a month ago. In the end they had to make do with a point that pleased Pulis much more.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE FROM THE BOLEYN GROUND
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Adrian 7.5; Jenkinson 6.5, Reid 7, Ogbonna 7, Cresswell 6.5; Obiang 6.5 (Carroll 64, 6), Kouyate 7; Zarate 7.5 (Antonio 82), Lanzini 8, Moses 6; Sakho 6.5 (Jelavic 74, 6)
Subs not used: Spiegel, Tomkins, Song, Cullen, Antonio
Goal: Zarate 17
Manager: Slaven Bilic: 6.5
West Brom (4-2-3-1): Myhill 7.5; McAuley 6.5, Dawson 6.5, Olsson 7, Evans 6.5; Fletcher 7, Yacob 6.5; Sessegnon 5 (Lambert 46, 7), Morrison 6.5, McClean 6.5; Rondon 6.5
Subs not used: Lindegaard; Gardner, McManaman, Anichebe, Berahino, Chester
Booked: Olsson, Yacob
Goal: Reid o.g. 50
Booked: Olsson, Yacob
Manager: Tony Pulis 6.5
Referee: Martin Atkinson