Crystal Palace vs West Ham Post Match Thoughts- Antonio Brain freeze costs Hammers

Michail Antonio’s last minute brain freeze cost West Ham dearly as they missed out on a golden opportunity to pick up their first away win of the 2017/18 Premier League season. The Hammers, 2-0 up at half time against arguably the worst team in the PL, paid the price for some questionable tactics and lack of composure as Wilfried Zaha, who had never scored against the visitors before this fixture, snatched an equaliser for the Eagles deep into second half stoppage time. It also broke a three game winning streak for WHUFC at Selhurst Park.

Palace, who had taken only 3 points from 9 games going into this clash, opted for a 4-4-2, with ex West Ham player James Tomkins taking the place of the injured Mamadou Sakho in defence and Reuben Loftus-Cheek in for James McArthur. In the absence of Christian Benteke, manager Roy Hodgson chose to continue with the pair of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend upfront.

Palace XI

Slaven Bilic chose to reward several players who participated in the 3-2 win over Spurs, with the likes of Ogbonna, Fernandes and Noble all getting starts. Jose Fonte took young Declan Rice’s spot in the back three, with Cheikhou Kouyate shifting to the centre. Upfront, Javier Hernandez was restored to the starting XI, with Andy Carroll dropped to the bench.

WHUFC starting lineup vs Palace 2017

The first few minutes saw nothing of note, with the Hammers taking time to settle into their system. In the 10th minute, Palace, who had gone down 4-1 to Bristol City in midweek, lost Patrick van Aanholt to injury, resulting in Timothy-Fosu Mensah having to fill in at left back.

Both Palace and West Ham, the latter more than the former, seemed to lack composure and gave away passes far too easily in the first half. The game was crying for a moment of quality, and it arrived in the 31st minute. Palace were shouting for a penalty at the other end after Zaha was involved in a tussle with Jose Fonte, but referee Robert Madley waved play on, and after a swift counter attack, with Lanzini instrumental, Aaron Cresswell found himself with acres of space and his cross was met with a superb outside of the boot finish from Hernandez- the Mexican’s fourth goal of the season.

West Ham, yet to concede from a corner this season, came close to losing that record in the 36th minute, with some atrocious marking that allowed Palace THREE free headers in the box, but ex Hammer Tomkins’ effort was brilliantly stopped by Joe Hart, who also managed to somehow save Jeffrey Schlupp’s follow-up, although he had little idea about the latter.

Another moment of quality, two minutes before half time, saw Edimilson Fernandes harry Luka Milivojevic in midfield. The Serb lost possession, and Andrew Ayew ran at the Palace defence, and deftly evaded the attention of Scott Dann before rifling a shot into the top corner.

The second half started with Arthur Masuaku replacing the injured Cresswell. Palace, desperate for a way back into the game, got it when Mark Noble gave the ball away in midfield. Zaha, always a threat on the counter, released Townsend, and a clumsy challenge on him from Ogbonna saw Madley point to the spot. Up stepped Milivojevic, and he sent Hart the wrong way to score his first goal of the season.

With the crowd behind them, Palace attacked more, with Cabaye hitting the bar and Zaha’s effort being parried away by Hart. In between the two chances, Jose Fonte had a glorious opportunity when he got a free header in the Palace box , but the Portuguese international unfortunately wasn’t even able to hit the target.

Hodgson took off right back Joel Ward and brought on striker Bakari Sako, thus allowing TFM to move to his more familiar RB position and Schlupp going to the left. With Zaha always a threat on the wing with his pace, Bilic responded by taking off Zabaleta, the only person to be carded in the first half, for Michail Antonio.

West Ham seemed content to soak up pressure, and Hart was called into action a number of times- pushing away Zaha’s shot, parrying Cabaye’s free kick after a silly Ogbonna foul, and tipping Tomkins’ header onto the bar, as the Hammers clung on to their lead.

The visitors had two chances to finish the game off on the counter, but Edimilson Fernandes’ poor passing killed both opportunities. Bilic wanted to bring Pedro Obiang on as his third sub, but Fonte’s injury forced his hand, and Declan Rice took the field, as West Ham opted to finish with the same back three that had started against Spurs in midweek.

The Hammers have often been their own greatest enemies, and there was no greater evidence on show than in the 96th minute. With forty odd seconds to go, Antonio had the ball at the Palace end- all he needed to do was to waste time on the corner, or even pass it to any of the three West Ham players in the box. He however inexplicably gave the ball back to the opposition, who launched one final attack of their own, and Zaha was there to slot the ball through Rice’s legs and past a despairing Hart. The pic below, showing two contrasting manager reactions on the sidelines, tells a story in itself- this was two points lost for West Ham and Slaven Bilic.

Bilic Reaction Last Minute Goal Conceding

Crystal Palace 2-2 West Ham (Milivojevic pen 50, Zaha 90+7 | Hernandez 31, Ayew 43)

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