West Ham hold on despite late fight back at Crystal Palace

West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini (centre) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game wi

West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini (centre) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game with team-mates - Credit: PA

It was certainly a Happy New Year for West Ham United at Selhurst Park, where they kicked-off 2022 with this thrilling victory over Crystal Palace.

But after skating into a comfortable three-goal interval lead, David Moyes men almost slipped-up during a thrilling finale that saw the Eagles swoop to bag two late goals.

In the end, though, the Hammers held on to make it a second, successful seasonal away-day thanks to a free-scoring, first-half salvo that saw main marksman Michail Antonio break the deadlock midway through the opening period, before Manuel Lanzini put the visitors in control with both a sensational solo-strike and a clinical stoppage-time spot-kick.

Certainly, West Ham had looked home and hosed, only for Odsonne Édouard and substitute Michael Olise to net twice during the closing eight minutes on an enthralling derby and leave Moyes grateful to hear the final whistle blow on a frantic, three-match festive fixture list.

Tuesday afternoon’s formidable, four-goal victory at Watford had left the Hammers in fifth-spot at the halfway point of the campaign and the Scot made just one predictable change with suspension-free Declan Rice – making his 150th Premier League appearance - taking the skipper’s armband from the now benched Mark Noble.

With West Ham having conceded early goals in both of their holiday fixtures to date, Palace looked have followed in the footsteps of both the Hornets and Southampton inside the opening 45 seconds when Will Hughes’ deep, left-wing cross skidded off Craig Dawson’s scalp into the path of Jordan Ayew, whose by-line cutback was rifled onto Łukasz Fabiański’s right post and, thankfully, away to safety to the relief of everyone in Claret & Blue.

Palace had also signed-off 2021 with a comfortable win that had had left them in 11th place - eight points behind the Hammers - and, following their 3-0 victory over rock-bottom Norwich City they made a couple of switches with Christian Benteke and Luka Milivojevic coming in for ex-Hammer Cheikhou Kouyaté and substitute Jean-Philippe Mateta.

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And after seeing the woodwork rattled so quickly, Milivojevic then curled a 20-yard free-kick over the visitors’ wall and wide before Ben Johnson charged down another Schlupp shot, when the Ghana international again ghosted in unnoticed at the far post.

With a dozen minutes on the clock, West Ham finally probed deep into Palace territory but when Johnson’s left-wing cross was only half-cleared, Vladimír Coufal couldn’t keep his 18-yarder down and the ball ended up in the home fans packed behind Vincente Guaita’s goal.

Moments later, those two Hammers full-backs almost carved out the opener, when another Johnson cross was cut-back by Coufal into the six-yard box, where the in-rushing Antonio saw his point-blank shot parried by the Eagles ‘keeper, who then palmed the ball clear of West Ham’s top-scorer before saving Lanzini’s follow-up header, too.

Next-up, Saïd Benrahma headed inches wide but with Moyes boys now having got well and truly into their stride, only one team looked like breaking the deadlock.

Sure enough, on 22 minutes, yet another raid down the right saw Johnson play in the overlapping Benrahma, whose low curling cross towards the edge of the six-yard box was met by the stretching Antonio and, having crept in behind marker Marc Guéhi, the Jamaican international slid home his ninth goal of the season through the clutches of the helpless Guaita.

And it just got better three minutes later, when Rice rampaged through the Palace midfield before finding Lanzini on the edge of the area and, bamboozling both Schlupp and Joachim Andersen with his fast, fancy footwork, the Argentinian teed-up a wonderful, 15-yard half-volley that scorched through the Selhurst Park night and under Guaita’s crossbar.

That quick-fire double certainly stunned Patrick Vieira’s team, who took their time to re-set but with Édouard rocking the bar and the fabulous Fabiański making three fantastic saves to twice deny Benteke as well Ayew, Palace knew that their New Year fortune was in short supply.

And to add insult to injury to the furious French World Cup winner’s crestfallen troops, West Ham then trebled their advantage in stoppage time, when another deep Johnson cross was only half-cleared and Milivojevic handled in his attempt to bring the ball out of defence.

Having been the man in the middle at Vicarage Road on Tuesday afternoon, Referee Darren England had twice visited his pitch-side monitor and, once again, the official found himself being sent to review the screen, whereupon he confirmed the penalty.

With virtually the last kick of the first-half, Lanzini duly despatched the consequent spot-kick inside the base of left-hand upright beyond the Guaita’s groping glove to make it five goals for the season and an incredible sixth in ten games against Palace.

After threatening throughout those opening 45 minutes, Johnson who had also been booked for tugging back Ayew, stood down at the break as Arthur Masuaku stepped from the bench for the restart.

Palace may have enjoyed the lion’s share of both possession and shots throughout that first-half but they still trailed by those three Hammers goals and the second period started to take similar shape as Tyrick Mitchell’s long-ranger deflected over before Édouard again found his shooting boots deserting him as he slid wide at the far post.

In reply, Antonio blasted just a foot wide from the edge of the area, while substitute Mateta and Édouard both threatened at the opposite end.

With eight minutes remaining Palace finally got onto the scoresheet, when Édouard’s radar eventually found the target, the France U-21 striker prodding home his fifth goal of the campaign after substitute Olise curled a cross into the six-yard box from the right flank.

Creator then turned scorer to set up that frenzied finale as Olise curled in a free-kick from virtually the same blade of grass and, with the centre eluding everyone in area, the ball ended up in the far corner to reduce the deficit to just one, solitary goal.

Mateta then sent an acrobatic overhead-kick wide as the Eagles threw caution to the wind but, by now, the clock was ticking down frantically against them and the Hammers held firm to secure another three points that cemented fifth-place at the end of three games inside a hectic seven-day festive spell.

HAMMERS: Fabianski, Coufal, Johnson (Masuaku h/t), Diop, Dawson, Souček, Rice, Lanzini (Noble 88), Benrahma (Vlašić, 71),  Bowen, Antonio. Unused subs: Areola, Yarmolenko, Fredericks, Král, Oko-Flex, Alese.

EAGLES: Guaita, Ward, Mitchell, Anderson, Guéhi, Milivojevic (Mateta 60), Schlupp, Hughes (Riedewald 75), Ayew, Edouard, Benteke (Olise 68). Unused subs: Butland, Tomkins, Eze, Matthews, Kelly,

Booked: Johnson (37), Masuaku (78).

Referee: Darren England