West Ham Power Past Palace Into Champions League Places

Craig Dawson, West Ham. (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Craig Dawson, West Ham. (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /
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West Ham jumped into the Champions League places after a brilliant win over city rivals Crystal Palace. The Hammers went behind early on to a Wilfried Zaha goal but fought back fantastically. A brace from Tomas Soucek and a goal from Craig Dawson were enough for the win.

The victory over Palace means that the club is in the top four places and that they have won six games on the bounce in all competitions. David Moyes’ side have won their last four in the Premier League and every game they have played in 2021.

Pre Match Build-up

There was a lot of buzz amongst West Ham fans before the game. It appeared as though the club were closing in on the signing of Jesse Lingard. There was also the news that the Hammers were going to make Said Benrahma‘s loan deal permanent. The Algerian had an obligation to make his loan permanent, but it has been brought forward to facilitate the deal for Lingard.

In terms of the team, Moyes made seven changes to the side that thrashed Doncaster in the FA Cup on the weekend. Amongst these changes, Declan Rice reclaimed the armband as Mark Noble dropped out of the starting eleven. Star striker, Michail Antonio, also returned to lead the line for the Hammers.

The win for West Ham meant that they leapfrogged Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool into the Champions League spots.

There was also a spot on the bench for highly-rated young forward Ademipo Obudeko. The striker was expected to play against Doncaster but due to COVID reasons was unable to play.

West Ham warming up.
West Ham warming up. (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Match Report

Crystal Palace started the game the sharper of the two. Probably due to their eight-day rest. After forcing the Hammers into their own half Zaha and Christian Benteke linked up well. Zaha then fired the Eagles ahead with a driven effort from 20-yards out. There was little Lukasz Fabianski could do as the shot was so well placed.

The lead didn’t last long, though. Soucek headered West Ham level in the 8th minute. Pablo Fornals played a brilliant lobbed through ball for Antonio. The striker then looped the ball into the six-yard box. Soucek had timed his run perfectly and finished the chance off perfectly.

After the early flurry of goals, the match started to take shape. Palace were trying to hit West Ham on the counter-attack. The Hammers, however, were controlling the majority of possession. Both sides were struggling to create any clear chances as they searched for the lead.

Tomas Soucek, West Ham.
Tomas Soucek, West Ham. (Photo by STEVEN PASTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

That was until the 24th minute. Antonio won a freekick for the Hammers 40-yards out from goal. Aaron Cresswell floated in a dangerous ball. Soucek got to the ball first, controlled it with his knee and then volleyed past Vicente Guaita. There was a VAR check on the goal, but nothing undoing was found as West Ham completed the comeback.

Antonio within 20 seconds of the restart almost doubled the lead. Former Hammer Cheikou Kouyate misplaced a pass, and the Englishman latched onto the ball. Antonio fired a low shot from 20-yards past Guaita. The shot, however, rattled the inside of the post and was cleared.

West Ham continued to threaten through Soucek. The Czech midfielder had a chance to complete a first-half hattrick. After picking up the ball 40-yards out. Soucek drove at the Palace goal and fired a shot goalwards. The effort lacked power and was saved by Guaita.

As the first half approached the end, West Ham spurned another chance to kill the game off. Fornals dummied the ball for Cresswell. The defender hammered the ball off-target, but Antonio was able to get a touch on the ball. The deflection looked to put the ball in the net; instead, the striker hit the post again.