|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Jordan Ayew’s last-minute solo goal sees Crystal Palace sink West Ham
Ed Aarons at Selhurst Park
Date Published Thu 26 Dec 2019 17.07 GMT
The odds of West Ham being dragged into a relegation battle seemed slim at the start of the season but after a wonderful piece of skill from Jordan Ayew in the last minute helped Crystal Palace do the double over their London rivals that is a very real prospect.
Manuel Pellegrini may have felt his luck was turning when his team took the lead through Robert Snodgrass against the run of play at the start of the second half. But given that West Ham had already dropped 12 points from winning positions this season – the highest in the division – perhaps the manager knew what would happen next, especially as his side surrendered a lead against these opponents in October before being beaten by another late Ayew winner.
An equaliser from Cheikhou Kouyaté was followed by Ayew’s superb solo effort that was reminiscent of his father, the former Marseille and Ghana playmaker Abedi Pele, and leaves West Ham one point and one place clear of trouble before Leicester’s visit to the London Stadium on Saturday.
“I don’t know if it’s mentality or lack of concentration,” said a beleaguered Pellegrini. “If you are playing well, then maybe you don’t need to change but many times we have taken the lead and we were not able to keep it.”
Victory against Southampton in West Ham’s last game had eased some of the pressure on Pellegrini, with the postponement of their fixture against Liverpool because of Club World Cup commitments giving him extra time to prepare for this match. Yet the news that the first-choice goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, had failed to recover from the hip injury that has kept him out for three months was not the best start to Pellegrini’s day, with the much-criticised Roberto recalled despite West Ham having conceded 19 goals in his previous nine appearances.
Palace were without Christian Benteke after the Belgium striker sustained a muscle injury that Roy Hodgson said could keep him out for “some time”. That meant a rare start for Max Meyer in a more advanced role on the right and, after a disappointing 18 months in the Premier League since his free transfer from Schalke, the diminutive German looked determined to make an impression.
After Meyer had volleyed Roberto’s weak punch clear from a corner way over the bar in the sixth minute, it was his cross that Ayew failed to direct on target on the half-hour after brilliant work from Wilfried Zaha down the left.
Pellegrini and Hodgson shared a joke as they left the pitch at the break, although the West Ham manager will not have been amused by the heated exchange between Mark Noble and Angelo Ogbonna after Ayew went close just after the resumption. Aaron Cresswell lost possession and it required a strong save from Roberto to deny the Ghana forward, with Noble making his dissatisfaction known to Ogbonna as they prepared to defend the corner.
There is nothing like a goal to bring a team together, however, and Snodgrass’s excellent finish after a powerful run from Michail Antonio was timely for the visitors. A suspected hamstring injury to Patrick van Aanholt delivered a second major blow to Palace as the defender limped off to be replaced by Jaïro Riedewald, although they were deservedly level soon after.
An excellent cross from James McArthur was headed into Kouyaté’s path by Ayew and the Senegal midfielder made no mistake against his former employers from close range. Both sides had their chances to snatch victory in the closing stages, with Roberto’s save to deny Connor Wickham when the substitute was clean through looking as if it had earned a point for West Ham until Ayew’s late heroics.
“I’m not as happy as Jordan is but I’m very happy,” Hodgson said. “In a team that doesn’t score many goals, to have five this season is a great effort. His contribution today was crucial.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Guaita 6; Kelly 6, Tomkins 6, Sakho 6.5, Van Aanholt 6.5 (Riedewald 65, 6.5); Kouyate 7 (McCarthy 88), Milivojevic 6, McCarthur 6.5; Meyer 6.5 (Wickham 75 5.5), Ayew 7, Zaha 7
Subs not used: Hennessey, Camarasa, Woods, Keutcha
Goals: Kouyate 68, Ayew 90
Yellow cards: None
Red cards: None
Manager: Roy Hodgson 6.5
WEST HAM (4-4-2): Roberto 6.5; Zabaleta 6, Balbuena 6, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 5.5; Snodgrass 6.5 (Ajeti 90), Rice 6, Noble 5.5, Fornals 6 (Lanzini 58, 6); Haller 5 (Anderson 75, 6), Antonio 6.5
Subs not used: Anang, Sanchez, Diop, Masuaku
Goals: Snodgrass 57
Yellow cards: Zabaleta, Creswell
Red cards: None
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 6