Zaha’s last-gasp Palace lev­eller sends West Ham into a rage

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Arindam Rej at Sel­hurst Park

Slaven Bilic held his head in his hands and shook it help­lessly, as his West Ham United team con­ceded in the sev­enth minute of added time to bot­tom­placed Crys­tal Palace.

While that hap­pened, his men lost theirs, with West Ham cap­tain Mark Noble hav­ing to be re­strained as an­gry words were ex­changed be­tween the two sets of play­ers at full-time, with Crys­tal Palace rev­el­ling in a gutsy fight­back. Ear­lier, Michail An­to­nio had also lost his head, gift­ing Palace the op­por­tu­nity to score their late lev­eller.

It was a painful blow for West Ham, pil­ing pres­sure back on their man­ager, who faces a bat­tle to show he is still the man for the job, after his side threw away a 2-0 half-time lead. For nor­mally re­served Roy Hodg­son, wav­ing his fists joy­fully, it was a re­lease of strain as they gave a com­mend­able show of char­ac­ter, with dan­ger­ous Wil­fried Zaha pro­duc­ing the de­ci­sive late blow to the vis­i­tors’ hopes of hold­ing on.

The cir­cum­stances of the re­sult led to those con­trast­ing emo­tions, rather than the draw it­self. It was all the more hurt­ful for West Ham as they were tan­ta­lis­ingly close to the feat of back-toback wins in chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances, hav­ing de­feated Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in the Carabao Cup in mid­week.

The strain, though, had been build­ing at the end of this game and West Ham fi­nally cracked, as An­to­nio was bru­tally pun­ished. Both man­agers claimed they had not seen the scenes at the end, cen­tring on Noble, but the illfeel­ing was very vis­i­ble.

Bilic him­self showed how hurt he was in his press con­fer­ence. It took the Croa­t­ian a few sec­onds to start speak­ing after the first ques­tion was asked to him. An­to­nio, even­tu­ally, was not spared Bilic’s crit­i­cism.

“That was just a bad de­ci­sion and shouldn’t hap­pen at this level of foot­ball,” the West Ham man­ager said. “No­body can say they did not de­serve it. Con­ced­ing like that is a killer.

“In the last few min­utes, we made wrong de­ci­sions. In the last sec­ond, what you have to do is keep it and we didn’t. That makes it very frus­trat­ing.

“Of course we [Bilic and An­to­nio] spoke. He’s the one who knows he can keep the ball.”

West Ham, though, could count them­selves for­tu­nate to be 2-0 ahead at the break, hav­ing sat back for much of the half. They were also in­debted to an out­stand­ing per­for­mance from goal­keeper Joe Hart, which kept them in the game.

Dis­cussing the re­sult, Hodg­son said: “It showed me that this team has got more char­ac­ter than they have some­times been cred­ited with. It would have been easy at half-time to feel sorry for them­selves. But you don’t al­ways get what you de­serve. I thought it was a strong per­for­mance in the sec­ond half.”

Palace had gone on the front foot in the early stages but strug­gled to make in­roads – and they were not helped by the scrappy, stop-start na­ture of the con­test. On a rare ven­ture for­ward, West Ham snatched the lead. Aaron Cress­well’s square pass teed up Javier Her­nan­dez, who tucked in from 10 yards.

Hodg­son’s men stung again as An­dre Ayew took pos­ses­sion at the halfway line, be­fore let­ting fly with a 20-yard strike.

There was a bet­ter start to the sec­ond half for Palace, though. An­dros Townsend was brought down by An­gelo Og­bonna, lead­ing to a penalty, which Luka Milivo­je­vic suc­cess­fully struck home. That break­through en­livened Palace and they al­most rapidly found an equaliser as Yo­han Cabaye’s fierce hit from 20 yards hit a post.

Palace’s last chance looked to have gone when Tomkins’ header struck the bar then Bak­ery Sako hoisted the ball over, but An­to­nio could not hold his nerve, al­low­ing Zaha to de­liver with a low shot. An­to­nio looked em­bar­rassed. For Bilic, though, it would have felt even worse.

Frus­tra­tion: Slaven Bilic looks to the heav­ens as his strug­gling side throw away a two-goal lead

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.