West Ham storm to victory at managerless Crystal Palace
17:10 23 August 2014
Mauro Zarate scored a stunning goal on debut as West Ham took all the points at Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham United 3
It was a case of take-two as the Hammers put last weekend’s disappointing opening day defeat behind them to record a richly deserved, first victory of the season at Selhurst Park.
Summer-signing Mauro Zarate wasted no time marking his debut with a 34th-minute opener, before Stewart Downing gave Sam Allardyce’s side a two-goal advantage, shortly afterwards.
And although former Upton Park loanee Marouane Chamakh brought Palace back into the contest just after the break, Carlton Cole rifled home on the hour to finally give Big Sam’s side victory in the Eagles nest, after six win-less matches in south London.
Both sides had kicked off their campaigns with derby-day defeats, but West Ham had, at least, enjoyed a quieter week than manager-less Palace, whose attempts to engage ex-Hammer Malky Mackay as their new boss had been scuppered by the Scot’s texting scandal.
Big Sam made two enforced switches from the Tottenham loss, with debutant Zarate and fit-again James Tomkins replacing Kevin Nolan (shoulder) and James Collins (suspended), while French striker Diafra Sakho made a first appearance on the bench.
With Keith Millen in temporary charge, once again, the Eagles made three changes from the side that had lost at Arsenal as Barry Bannan and Damien Delaney came in for an injured Scott Dann and the suspended Jason Puncheon, while Stuart O’Keefe received a post warm-up call-up to replace Joe Ledley.
Despite that late re-shuffle, in a scrappy opening, the hosts created the best of the early chances as the diving Chamakh forced a corner before Frazier Campbell then headed the consequent flag-kick straight to Adrian.
With the free-kick count quickly getting into double-figures, the Hammers won a couple of corners of their own, too, but the best of their early work came from the zippy Zarate, who saw a couple of shots blocked, while Cole also glanced his header straight to Julian Speroni.
On 25 minutes, Aaron Cresswell had a great chance to break the deadlock but his 12-yarder was deflected wide after Cole nodded down Downing’s well-flighted, right-wing cross.
Cheikhou Kouyate also headed straight to Speroni before the escaping Zarate over-ran the ball as he strolled onto Ricardo Vaz Te’s neat pass.
But ten minutes before the break the Argentinian striker atoned for that slip, when he opened the scoring in style.
With Palace dozing, the quick-thinking Mark Noble rolled a short corner to Vaz Te, who cut into the penalty area before laying the ball back to his skipper on the edge of the box and, although, his thunderous 18-yarder cannoned off Frazier’s shoulder, Zarate was there to meet the looping ricochet with a 20-yard volley that flew inside the right post.
Things got even better for the Hammers just three minutes later, when a fine passing move out of defence saw them progress to the halfway line, where Cole picked out Kouyate, whose sheer strength saw him brush O’Keefe aside before finding Downing.
And the West Ham wide-boy left Joel Ward trailing in his wake too, as he cut infield before threading a low, bending 20-yarder round the outstretched right glove of Speroni to give the Hammers a two-goal lead.
With Palace going in search of an interval lifeline, both Reid and Tomkins were booked for for fouls on Chamakh and Yannick Bolasie, while Delaney could only send his late, angled effort ripping into the side-netting.
Two minutes after the restart, Tomkins met Downing’s corner with a powerful close-range header that crashed down off the left-hand angle before being scrambled to safety.
Instead of trebling their advantage, West Ham cruelly found their lead halved within seconds as Mile Jedinak burst forward before squaring to Chamakh, who found the net with a low, 20-yard sizzler as Noble and Reid fruitlessly tried to charge the shot down.
Shortly afterwards, Bannan stung Adrian with a 25-yarder stinger but just as Palace looked at their most threatening, on the hour-mark, the visitors conjured up a Hammer blow.
With Tomkins sending a deep free-kick from the centre-spot into crowded goalmouth, neither Delaney nor Vaz Te could make clean contact and, with the ball bobbling into his path, Cole needed no formal invitation to lash a crisp 10-yarder into the net.
That telling third goal was to prove Cole’s final contribution as Sakho stepped from the dug-out and, after Joey O’Brien had been booked for felling substitute Jonathan Williams, the French striker almost marked his arrival with a goal, too, but Speroni palmed his header aside after Man-of-the-Match Kouyate climaxed another storming run with a pinpoint cross.
But, by now, West Ham already had that first victory of the season - and long-awaited Selhust Park win - firmly in the bag.
EAGLES: Speroni, Kelly, Ward, Hangeland, Delaney, Bannan (Williams 70), Bolasie, Jedinak,O’Keefe (Murray 83) Chamakh, Campbell (Gayle 70). Unused subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, McCarthy, Guedioura.
HAMMERS: Adrian, O’Brien, Cresswell, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Kouyate, Downing (Diame 89),Vaz Te, Zarate (Poyet 83), Cole (Sakho 66). Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Morrison, Sakho, Demel, Valencia.
Booked: Reid (40), Tomkins (45), O’Brien (75), Jedinak (88).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.