Lanzini strike gives West Ham vital victory
19:43 15 October 2016
The Hammers had to play with 10 men for the last 15 minutes but they clung on for superb victory over Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace 0 West Ham United 1
The Hammers were left singing and dancing in the south London rain thanks to Manuel Lanzini’s first-half winner at saturated Selhurst Park.
The Argentinian – who struck in both games against Alan Pardew’s Palace last season – made it a terrific treble to lift West Ham United out of the Premier League basement and send Slaven Bilić’s boys up into 15th place.
But they did not have it all their own way with Christian Benteke missing a first-half penalty and Aaron Cresswell finding himself harshly dismissed with a quarter of an hour remaining after collecting two crazy cards inside a minute of mayhem.
With just one win from their first seven starts, the 19th-placed Hammers had made a trio of changes from the side that had drawn with Middlesbrough before the international break.
The fit-again Cresswell made a welcome return for his first game of the season in place of Sam Byram (hamstring), while Lanzini and Simone Zaza also earned call-ups in place of Gökhan Töre (thigh) and substitute James Collins.
And Cresswell wasted no time showing the Hammers what they had been missing, when he burst down the left on four minutes and let fly with a rising 20-yarder that ripped into the side-netting.
Shortly afterwards, the rampaging left-back was deep in Eagles’ territory, once more, and this time he prodded to Zaza, whose low, 18-yard shot went skidding across the greasy Selhurst Park turf and into the clutches of Steve Mandanda.
Unbeaten in their previous five Premier League games and kicking-off in eighth-spot, Palace – with ex-Hammer James Tomkins in their defensive line-up - were predictably unchanged and, with 10 minutes on the clock, Wilfried Zaha sent an angled 12-yarder beyond the base of Adrian’s far post.
But with a new-look back three of Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Cheikhou Kouyaté, the Hammers had barely been troubled in the opening exchanges and, indeed forcing a couple of corners themselves, the visitors looked the most threatening.
Kouyaté headed one Dimitri Payet flag-kick just inches beyond the far post, before Bilić’s battlers did, indeed, take the lead on 19 minutes.
Not surprisingly, Cresswell was involved and after combining with Zaza down the flank once again, the left-back sent a sizzling low cross steaming to the edge of the six-yard box, where Lanzini got in front of James McArthur to sidefoot the ball beyond Mandanda.
The East End relief on the pitch, the terraces and the bench was there for all to see and with the Hammers determined to hold on to that lead, Mark Noble was cautioned for upending Andros Townsend, as he attempted to break free.
Still West Ham pressed and, under pressure from the Zaza, Joel Ward headed just a whisker over his own crossbar, while Lanzini also sent a 20-yarder bouncing into Mandanda as Palace remained on the back foot.
But with stoppage time approaching, all that first-half graft looked set to count for nothing as Palace launched one last attack that saw Michail Antonio’s slide on Wilfried Zaha go unpunished but with the ball breaking to Christian Benteke, the Hammers were not so lucky second time around as the Palace striker tumbled under Ogbonna’s challenge.
Dusting himself down, Benteke strode forward to take the consequent spot-kick and punctuating his run-up, he successfully fooled Adrian only to scoop the ball over the committed keeper’s left-hand angle, into the drenched Palace fans behind the goal.
Having survived that let-off, the Hammers then saw Benteke almost atone for that miss with the last action of the first-half but his header thumped off Adrian’s right-hand post to safety to leave West Ham with their slender one-goal lead at the break.
Pardew introduced Yohan Cabaye and Zeki Fryers for the restart at the expense of Joe Ledley and Martin Kelly and, after Benteke’s afternoon took another turn for the worse with a booking for a challenge on Reid, Andros Townsend forced Adrian into his first meaningful save of the contest with a rising 20-yarder.
At the other end, the advancing Mandanda smothered Payet as he weaved himself into a shooting position before Ogbonna also found himself yellow carded for tripping the zippy Zaha and then Adrian was called back into duty to deny Jason Puncheon.
With 20 minutes remaining, Antonio saw his header cleared off the line as West Ham came within a whisker of doubling their lead, but then inside one manic minute it all changed for Cresswell who - under the shackles of Cabaye – was booked for diving.
Then, as soon as play resumed, the Hammers left-back found himself in another touchline tussle with Zaha, who needed no encouragement to hit the deck and with Selhurst Park supporters screaming for another caution, Cresswell harshly saw a second yellow from referee Martin Atkinson.
Down to 10 men, Bilić introduced Edimilson Fernandes at the expense of Payet and, after the wasteful Benteke twice went close, Jonathan Calleri came on for the industrious Zaza before Havard Nordtveit replaced match-winner Lanzini as the ten-man Hammers held on for the three precious points that finally lifted them out of the bottom three.
EAGLES: Mandanda, Ward, Kelly (Fryers h/t), Tomkins, Delaney, Ledley (Cabaye h/t), McArthur (Wickham 70), Puncheon, Townsend, Zaha, Benteke. Unused subs: Hennessey, Campbell, Chung-yong Lee, Sako.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Antonio, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble, Lanzini (Nordtveit 88), Payet (Fernandes 78) Zaza (Calleri 85). Unused subs: Spiegel, Feghouli, Collins, Fletcher.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Bookings: Noble (21), Benteke (47), Ogbonna (61), Cresswell (74).
Sent Off: Cresswell (75).