West Ham United 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Brian Jeeves reporting from the London Stadium
A GOAL deep into stoppage time from West Bromwich Albion substitute, Jonny Evans, denied West Ham United maximum points from what was otherwise a pulsating Premier League clash at the London Stadium.
The Hammers were dealt a blow with in-form frontman, Andy Carroll, ruled out due to a nagging groin injury. Nevertheless, with both Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio amongst those starting, Slaven Bilic men still possessed the firepower capable of causing damage to any opponent.
Meanwhile, West Brom arrived in east London handily placed in the table and off the back of an important victory over Stoke City at the Hawthorns. However, their form on the road was slightly less impressive. The Baggies had won only one of their last seven league outings on the road, finding the net just four times in the process.
And it was West Ham who created the first clear-cut opportunity, with Snodgrass unable to make a telling contact after Cheikhou Kouyate and Sofiane Feghouli had fashioned an opening. However, within minutes they were stunned as former Spurs man, Nacer Chadli, eased passed Kouyate before side-footing low through keeper Darren Randolph’s legs to hand the Baggies the lead.
Snodgrass was a whisker away from levelling the contest. England goalkeeper, Ben Foster, brilliantly keeping out the former Hull City midfielder’s curling free-kick at the foot of a post. But it was Albion who were dominating. Salomon Rondon was desperately unlucky to see his speculative volley cannon back off the woodwork with Randolph beaten all ends up.
And the mood inside the London Stadium worsened when Feghouli’s close range effort was chalked off, although replays suggested that the assistant’s decision was a wrong one, with the prostrate Craig Dawson playing the Algerian on-side. Soon after, Antonio wasn’t far away as the home side upped the tempo in a bid find a foothold in the match.
Chadli fired directly at Randolph, while Antonio’s close range attempt was scrambled off the line by Matt Phillips as the sides continued to exchange blows. However, the Hammers anxieties were clearly getting through to those in the stands, who were vocally venting their mounting frustrations.
West Ham began the second period with renewed vigour. Feghouli and Snodgrass probed tirelessly, while Antonio was snubbed out by Baggies substitute, Jonny Evans, just as he looked set to pull the trigger.
But just after the hour mark, West Ham drew level. Manuel Lanzini’s thumping effort was tipped onto the bar by Foster, and Feghouli was on hand to pick up the pieces, slotting into an empty net from six yards, much to the relief of all connected with the east Londoners.
With the crowd now very much behind them West Ham pressed forward in search of a second. Dawson brilliantly blocked as Lanzini looked set to score, while Jonathan Calleri’s angled drive was kept out by a fully extended Foster as the home side enjoyed their best spell of the match.
And with four minutes remaining the Hammers grabbed the advantage. Lanzini’s strike from twenty-five yards simply fizzed past Foster, much to the delight of the ecstatic home crowd. But deep into stoppage time, the Baggies salvaged a point. Evans rose unchallenged to meet James Morrison’s flag-kick, earning the visitors what moment before had looked like an unlikely share of the spoils.
Bilic was sent to the stands and skipper, Mark Noble, cautioned in the melee that followed as the home side’s frustrations boiled over.
West Ham United are next in Premier League action on Saturday, February 25, when they take on Watford at Vicarage Road (5:30pm).
West Ham United: Darren Randolph, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell (Jonathan Calleri 46’) Sofiane Feghouli (James Collins 90’), Cheikhou Kouyaté, Manuel Lanzini, Robert Snodgrass (Edimilson Fernandes 87’), Pedro Obiang,Mark Noble (Capt), Jose Fonte, Michail Antonio Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Havard Nordtveit, Sam Byram, Ashley Fletcher
Booked: Pedro Obiang (Foul), Winston Reid (Foul), Mark Noble (Dissent)
Goals: Sofiane Feghouli 63’, Manuel Lanzini 86’
West Bromwich Albion: Ben Foster, Allan Nyom, James Morrison (Claudio Yacob 79’), Jake Livermore, Salomon Rondon, Matt Phillips (Hal Robson-Kanu 67’), Chris Brunt, Nacer Chadli (Jonny Evans 53’), Gareth McAuley, Darren Fletcher (Capt), Craig Dawson Subs not used: Boaz Myhill (GK), Jonas Olsson, Marc Wilson, James McClean
Booked: Salomon Rondon (Foul), Chris Brunt (Foul)
Goals: Nacer Chadli 6’, Jonny Evans 90+4’
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Simon Bennett and Michael McDonough
Fourth Official: Keith Stroud
Reaction to follow…...