Late Maupay equaliser holds West Ham to Brighton draw

West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal (left) and Brighton and Hove Albion's Neal Maupay battle for the b

West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal (left) and Brighton and Hove Albion's Neal Maupay battle for the ball during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Brighton and Hove Albion at the London Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday December 1, 2021. - Credit: PA

Yet again, the Hammers failed to down the Seagulls in the Premier League on a disappointing night at London Stadium, where David Moyes’ men were pegged back by Brighton’s last-minute leveller.

Although Tomáš Souček – who had not scored since the opening day of the campaign – netted his second goal of the season inside the opening five minutes, West Ham United gradually lost their momentum as this encounter wore on and they only had themselves to blame when Neal Maupay equalised in the closing moments.

Graham Potter’s side may well have arrived at London Stadium win-less in their last nine matches in all competitions but, equally they had never lost in eight Premier League games against the Hammers and, once again, this would prove to be a cold, Stratford night during which historic trends would prove more telling than current form.

Following Sunday’s defeat at Manchester City, Moyes made two changes as Jarrod Bowen and Vladimír Coufal came in for the injured Aaron Cresswell (back) and substitute Arthur Masuaku, who both saw Ben Johnson move into the left-back role.

Kicking-off in fourth-spot – five points and five places above the Seagulls - the Hammers simply could not have got off to a better start for, with just five minutes on the clock, Saïd Benrahma forced an early corner, which Pablo Fornals swung into the near post where Souček, escaping his markers, rose highest to flick the ball past Robert Sánchez and give West Ham instant lift-off.

In all the excitement, Fornals then tried his luck from 40-yards but the Brighton ‘keeper easily fielded his Spanish compatriot’s speculative effort before Coufal embarked on a foray forward and this time Sánchez held the Czech Republic international’s 20-yarder at the second attempt as Bowen raced in for the kill.

Potter had also made two changes with Adam Lallana and Jeremy Sarmiento coming in for substitutes Tariq Lamptey and Pascal Großß but apart from seeing Maupay drill an early, angled shot across the face of goal, the visitors created little during the early exchanges.

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Having fallen behind to that Souček header, the already winged Seagulls evening then took another turn for the worse, when Sarmiento – his flight already flown – limped away with less than a quarter-hour played to be replaced by Solly March.

With Sánchez again well off his line, Bowen then tried to beat the Spaniard from inside his own half however the long-ranger sailed harmlessly wide and then, as the half-hour mark approached, Fornals went so much closer when he connected with Coufal’s inch-perfect cross but his 12-yard volley crashed down off the crossbar and away to safety.

Ten minutes before the break, Potter found himself making another enforced substitution with Adam Webster hobbling off and Shane Duffy stepping from the bench but curiously that second switch seemingly galvanised the visitors.

Indeed, entering the final moments of the first half, Jakub Moder forced an incredible point-blank save out of the hitherto redundant Łukasz Fabiański, before Lewis Dunk then nodded the consequent corner just a fraction wide of the ‘keeper’s right-hand post to leave the Hammers slender lead still intact at the break.

Just after the restart, March’s angled effort was deflected over the angle before Lewis Dunk met the resultant corner with a thumping header that rattled into Fabiański’s ribcage.

At the other end, a goalmouth scramble led to a seemingly eternal VAR review by Australian referee Jarred Gillett that looked set to rumble on until midnight before a second Hammers ‘goal’ was eventually ruled out for offside after Craig Dawson, Kurt Zouma and then Michail Antonio had finally forced the ball over the line.

Midway through the half, Bowen embarked on a superb solo run before sending a low angled shot across the face of goal and beyond the far post while, in reply, Lallana curled inches wide from 18 yards before Lamptey became Brighton’s third and final substitution, replacing Joël Veltman for the final 20 minutes.

In response - with the Hammers having well and truly lost all attacking and possessive initiative - Masuaku and Manuel Lanzini both arrived on the scene to replace Benrahma and Fornals.

Briefly West Ham looked dangerous, once more, with skipper Declan Rice’s 20-yarder forcing an acrobatic one-handed parry from Sánchez before Antonio’s header brought another flying save from the Seagulls stopper, while the visitors then saw Lallana retire, leaving them to play out the closing stages with just ten men.

Incredibly, though, Brighton overcame the odds that were now stacked so heavily against them and, on 89 minutes, Lamptey sent over a right-wing cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Maupay got in front of Coufal to send an overhead kick beyond Fabiański to rescue a dramatic late point for the visitors and leave Hammers now win-less in three Premier League matches ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime encounter with table-topping Chelsea.

HAMMERS: Fabiański, Coufal, Johnson, Zouma, Dawson, Rice, Souček, Fornals (Masuaku 76), Benrahma (Lanzini 76), Bowen, Antonio. Unused subs: Areola, Yarmolenko, Vlašić, Noble, Diop, Král, Perkins.

SEAGULLS: Sanchez, Veltman (Lamptey 70), Cucurella, Dunk, Webster (Duffy 35), Lallana, Bissouma, Trossard, Sarmiento (March 12). Moder, Maupay. Unused subs: Steele, Mac Allister, Mwepu, Großß, Locadia, Burn.

Booked: Maupay (89), Dawson (90+6)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

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