West Brom bag deserved draw after West Ham wrangle
Holly Thackeray | November 29, 2015
West Ham United 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
- West Brom continue excellent record at Upton Park
- Mauro Zarate’s magnificent first-half free-kick put the Hammers ahead
- Substitute Rickie Lambert’s lucky equalising strike deflected in by West Ham’s Winston Reid
Another Baggies and Hammers encounter ends evenly
After a severe drubbing at the hands of Tottenham, Slaven Bilic’s West Ham boys seemed to have bounced back in a much needed show of strength, with opponents West Brom behind after just 17 minutes at Upton Park.
Then it all changed, as substitute Rickie Lambert equalised after the break, with the help of a deflection, though Tony Pulis deserves full credit for turning around his team at half-time, and Albion stay safe in 13th place in the Premier League.
Notably, this is the seventh draw in the last 11 match-ups between these two teams, with the Baggies having been beaten only once in their past six trips to east London. Customers can back Pulis’ tough team at 12/5 to split the spoils on their next outing too, with the Midlands men 12/5 to frustrate travelling Tottenham at The Hawthorns.
Argentines excelled early on at Upton Park
The Hammers were clearly hungry from the off, picking off a poor Jonas Olsson pass around the eighth minute mark, before surging upfield. On loan Victor Moses’ lung-bursting runs down the wing were an excitingly prominent feature, and on this occasion he was able to slip through Manuel Lanzini, who was fresh from notching at White Hart Lane.
Lithe Argentine Lanzini danced through Albion’s defence to find compatriot Mauro Zarate, who could only hit the side netting. Though this promising pair, ready to step-up as creative forces in the absence of Dimitri Payet, and their probing link-up play were only just getting warmed up.
It was Zarate of the talented twosome who eventually broke the Baggies deadlock, with a fire-cracker of a free-kick on 17 minutes in east London, however.
West Brom number one Boaz Myhill impressively got a hand to the South American’s deliciously dipping and swerving set-piece, but it was not enough to stop the ball from smashing emphatically into the net.
The crisp hosting Hammers continued to turn the screw, with criminally uncapped Englishman Aaron Cresswell’s pinpoint cross wasted by Cheikhou Kouyate, before Lanzini lashed another strike at Myhill. The stopper spilled his save luckily into the path of defender Jonny Evans, though the Northern Irishman was almost bullied off the ball by powerful Moses.
Myhill then repelled a second plum chance from Lanzini, this time laid on a plate by Zarate, and is was a another squandered opportunity West Ham would come to rue, as both Zarate and Diafra Sakho also failed to convert another clever Cresswell cross.
Tony Pulis reshuffle reaps rewards
Escape artist tactician Pulis tinkered with his deck at the break, bringing striker Lambert on, in a decision that created ripple effects immediately, as revived Albion soon found an equaliser.
Alert Lambert pounced on Darren Fletcher’s chested ball, with his speculative strike destined to go wide until West Ham defender Winston Reid’s arm decisively deflected it into the net, past an already diving Adrian.
It had previously been the story of the match that Salomon Rondon was restricted to venomous but off target long-range punts, but soon the sharpshooter found himself far less restricted. Only athletic Adrian’s chest and superb spring stopped a point-blank header from the fierce forward, after captain Fletcher pumped in a top-draw cross and the Baggies got a footing in the game.
Olsson interventions deny Upton Park delirium
Moses was once again up to mischief, as West Ham searched desperately for a late winner, and once again burst forward on the counter, this time feeding Sakho. The Senegal sharpshooter was brilliantly blocked by a last-ditch Olsson intervention, and paid for overstretching as he was then hauled off by Bilic with a worrying niggle.
Olsson and Evans later illustrated further defensive diligence to thwart West Ham’s plan B in Andy Carroll, crucially nullifying the net threat, when the ball fell to the battering ram in the box, awaiting a trademark finish.
Magician Moses had a last chance to snatch victory, after Lanzini hooked a cross into the Baggies’ area, though the borrowed wingman’s ambitious volley sailed just wide of the post, along with West Ham’s chance of all three points.
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