Mur­ray de­liv­ers ham­mer blow

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER -

Four fix­tures with­out de­feat had en­cour­aged an op­ti­mism their £100 mil­lion in­vest­ment in new sign­ings could yet in­spire them into the top half of the Premier League. West Ham in­stead again re­sem­bled an un­set­tled side strug­gling for an iden­tity as Glenn Mur­ray’s goal for Brighton took the hosts above them and up to 12th place, and left them at risk of end­ing the week­end in 17th.

The qual­ity oc­ca­sion­ally demon­strated by Felipe An­der­son and Marko Ar­nau­tovic will re­gard­less be cause for en­cour­age­ment for West Ham’s man­ager, Manuel Pel­le­grini, but of greater con­cern will be the ease with which they were out­played through­out the first half.

Brighton had al­ready threat­ened when, in the 25th minute, they de­servedly took the lead. The vis­i­tors’ An­driy Yar­molenko was guilty of los­ing con­cen­tra­tion and then pos­ses­sion to Beram Kayal near the half-way line, and from there the Brighton mid­fielder seam­lessly cre­ated their open­ing goal.

Swift one-two

Af­ter play­ing a swift one-two with Solly March, Kayal ran un­chal­lenged down the left wing and had time to look up and cross to Mur­ray, who from im­me­di­ately in front of goal had an in­ex­pli­ca­ble amount of space to rou­tinely fin­ish be­yond goal­keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski.

An­der­son’s de­liv­ery en­sured the vis­i­tors had a promis­ing chance shortly af­ter­wards, but when Ar­nau­tovic strug­gled to con­nect, Pe­dro Obiang volleyed into the ground and over.

With Pel­le­grini’s team strug­gling for pos­ses­sion, it took un­til shortly af­ter the hour mark for them to again look ca­pa­ble of scor­ing. From a 25-yard free-kick An­der­son curled harm­lessly over the cross­bar. Mur­ray then al­most scored again , when March weaved his way from the right wing into the penalty area and chipped a cross into his path, but the striker headed nar­rowly over. With five min­utes left West Ham won an­other free-kick, the in-form Ar­nau­tovic this time curled be­yond the cross­bar.

Brighton sub­sti­tute Jurgen Lo­ca­dia was then un­for­tu­nate when his fin­ish, from a close-range re­bound, was ruled out for the most mar­ginal of off­side calls.

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