Nothing could separate 10-man West Ham United and Crystal Palace in a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday afternoon (April 2).
Before the match, the two sides had met nine times in the Premier League with both winning four and drawing one while the last three Premier League meetings between West Ham and Crystal Palace have ended as 3-1 away wins.
However, the Eagles took the lead against the run of play when Hammers keeper Adrian make a howler. A floated free kick by Bakary Sako saw the Spaniard fumble his efforts to keep the ball away from any danger palming the ball to centre half Damian Delaney who tapped in from close range.
Two minutes after Delaney’s goal, the hosts were back on level terms. As Palace failed to clear their lines, Argentine midfielder Manuel Lanzini smashed the ball past Wayne Hennessey to quickly put the game back on level terms.
Striker Diafra Sakho’s prodded effort from 12 yards from Aaron Cresswell’s deflected cross was well handled by Hennessey as the Upton Park outfit dominated possession and could have easily taken the lead. Midfield star Dimitri Payet rippling drive from 20 yards out also kept Hennessey busy.
After 32 minutes, attractive football by Palace resulted in midfield utility man Jason Puncheon’s header going just over the crossbar from Pape Souare’s teasing cross.
With seven minutes remaining of the first half, Sakho should have put the hosts in front with a header that went agonisingly wide from Payet’s corner.
The Boleyn Ground went into uproar as Payet produced one his trademark free kick’s to put West Ham 2-1 up. The Frenchman’s 20-yard effort curled around the wall in sublime fashion showing why the former Marseille playmaker is one of the players of the season.
After scoring an equally stunning free kick in the international break for France against Russia, this was Payet’s 12th goal in all competitions.
Manuel Lanzini’s strike from 56 minutes was the first opportunity of the second half in a start that lacked in tempo and urgency.
With just over an hour played, Cresswell became the saviour. Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate’s weak back pass was intercepted and with the goal gaping, Cresswell cleared off the line.
One minute after Cresswell’s antics, Kouyate was given his marching orders when he caught Dwight Gayle with a high challenge.
Another defensive mishap saw Crystal Palace score to make it 2-2. Souare’s whipped cross saw West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna clearance strike teammate Winston Reid and the ball into the path of Gayle who finished calmly.
The game ended all square as West Ham remain nine games unbeaten and are still on course for a place in next season’s Europa League.
West Ham: Adrian, Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble © (Obiang, 80), Kouyate, Payet, Lanzini; Emenike (Carroll, 60), Sakho (Valencia, 68).
Subs: Randolph, Tomkins, Song, Moses.
Crystal Palace: Hennesey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Jedinak ©, Ledley (Campbell, 70), Puncheon, Bolasie, Zaha (Gayle, 45); Sako.
Subs: McCarthy, Mariappa, Kelly, Mutch, Lee Chung-yong.