Two goals from Glenn Murray sandwiched by a Scott Dann header saw Crystal Palace defeat West Ham by three goals to one at Upton Park in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, with Murray almost being the hero and villain as his sending off offered the hosts a route back into the game, that they failed to take.
West Ham were the quicker starters of the pair, with full-back Aaron Cresswell's poorly hit cross flying just over Julian Speroni's goal early on. Minutes later, Jason Puncheon gave away a free-kick in a dangerous area. Mark Noble stepped and saw his curling effort hit the crossbar, with Speroni frozen to his line.
The Hammers remained on the front foot however struggled to create more opportunities, as Palace grew into the game. The visitors had a penalty shout when Cresswell blocked Damien Delaney's header, only for Murray to go down under the pressure of a resulting challenge from the young left-back. Referee Mike Dean signalled play on, uninterested in penalty claims.
Shortly afterwards, Adrian made a stong save with his legs from Murray, but the joy was short lived as Palace went ahead just minutes before half-time. From the resulting corner, Murray headed down low into the centre of the goal. Amidst the confusion, Cresswell attempted to hook clear only for the ball to spin off his shin, past a bemused Adrian to see Palace go into half time with a 1-0 lead. Murray or Cresswell could be credited with the goal, the former more likely due to his header being on target.
It didn't take them long to extend their lead in the second half, with Scott Dann doubling it following poor West Ham marking from a corner in the 51st minute. It could be argued that Adrian could have done better, however the sheer power of the header ensured that Palace went further ahead.
After another Noble free-kick went high and wide, manager Sam Allardyce sought changes to bring his side back into the game. Brazilian forward Nene came on for his Hammers debut, replacing Alex Song.
Despite the change, it was Palace who scored again not long after the substitution, as Murray finally got a goal that was definitely his. A curling set-piece delivery from the left hand side was met by the head of Murray, who assured the three points for his side on the hour mark.
Nene did make an impact, hitting the post with a technically brilliant left footed effort before West Ham were handed a lifeline when Murray was himself sent off. Booked earlier for a rash challenge on Kouyaté, a late tackle on Winston Reid when chasing the ball down in the penalty area left referee Dean with no choice other than to reduce the visitors to ten men.
Palace naturally dropped deeper after the red, allowing striker Enner Valencia to find the net with a direct shot from outside the area. Speroni was beaten by the Ecudorian, only being able to get fingertips to the ball as it rifled into the corner.
Buoyed by the goal, West Ham continued to press and almost drew closer to an equaliser through another Valencia strike. An audacious attempt from long range sprang Speroni into action, making a wonderful save. He repeated the feat momets later as Carl Jenkinson burst through on goal, with Speroni spreading himself well to deny the loanee full-back from Arsenal.
Despite their man advantage West Ham failed to make a memorable comeback, ensuring Alan Pardew's return to Upton Park was a happy one as Palace won their fifth away game in a row.
|West Ham (1)||Crystal Palace (3)|
|Noble||6||Puncheon (3 assists)||8|