West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace: Haller’s moment of magic earns The Hammers a point in heated London derby   
(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The match 

After a feisty opening 15 minutes, where both sides attempted to take control of the game, Christian Benteke came closest to breaking the deadlock after he towered over Issa Diop, planting his header just wide of Łukasz Fabiański's goal.  

Pablo Fornals came close to scoring himself, after Vladimír Coufal sent a tantalising ball into the Palace area, only for Fornals to glace a header inches wide of the left post.  

Benteke has found a new lease of life this season, once again kick-starting his Palace career by scoring two in the 5-1 demolition of West Brom earlier this month. The Belgian striker continued his goal scoring exploits on the 35th minute, stooping low to meet an inviting Joel Ward cross and powering his header past Fabiański.  

Embed from Getty Images

David Moyes has instilled an intimidating work ethic into this Hammers’ side and Jarrod Bowen has been a key component of the recent success at the London Stadium.

It was Bowen who nearly equalised on the 38th minute, after the 23-year-old jinked past Patrick van Aanholt and drilled a wicked shot that looked destined for the bottom left-hand corner. However, Guaita had other ideas, and got down well to keep the south Londoners lead intact.  

Benteke should have doubled Palace's lead and his tally for the evening moments later. Andros Townsend danced his way through the West Ham defence and set up Benteke one-on-one with Fabiański. But with Benteke full of confidence, he attempted an audacious back heel flick which flew into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper.  

The second half started similar to the first 45, with both sides having a flurry of chances, and it was always going to take something special to break the stubborn defence that Roy Hodgson has cultivated at Crystal Palace.  

But Sébastien Haller had that special piece of quality. On the 56th minute, Coufal clipped a hopeful ball into the Palace penalty area, which tempted Haller to acrobatically hammer an overhead kick from 15 yards out, which rifled past Guiata and into the back of the net. A truly awe-inspiring piece of skill.  

Embed from Getty Images

Palace’s second half went from bad to worse when Christian Benteke received his marching orders having been adjudged by referee David Coote, to have deliberately elbowed robust midfielder, Tomáš Souček.  

Embed from Getty Images

Despite the grandstand finish, accompanied by a barrage of West Ham pressure, neither side could find the winner in a feisty London derby.  

The Hammers remain 7th in the Premier League and only three points of a Champions League spot. As for Palace, Roy Hodgson’s side stay in 13th place and only four points a drift from the Europa League spots.  

Takeaways  

Cross it and he will score 

Hodgson seems to have found a distinct balance in his squad. Christian Benteke's return to the line-up offers a focal point and meaning to the attack, with his intelligent link-up play allowing Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze to shine, thrive and conquer Premier League defences.   

Benteke’s Palace career looked dead and buried at the start of the season, with no hope of returning to first team duties any time soon. However, his aerial presence has always been a key factor which keeps him in contention for a resurrection at any minute.  

His contract is up in the summer, but should he continue his rich vein of form, Palace would not think twice about continuing his stay at Selhurst Park.  

However, his red card midway through the second half, put a dampener on his impressive evening and will result on a one match ban. This could give Michy Batshuayi or Jordan Ayew a chance to prove themselves worthy of a starting role alongside Zaha.   

Can Haller continue to keep Michail Antonio out of the squad? 

Whilst Benteke has rediscovered his finishing touch, his opposite number this evening, Sebastian Haller, went one better, stunning the few hundred inside the London Stadium with a truly amazing overhead kick to bring the game level.  

Haller has been feeling the burden of his weighty £40 million price tag, since his move from Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019, having only found the back of the net 9 times in his previous 43 appearances prior to this evening.  

Embed from Getty Images

But with Michail Antonio sidelined with a series of hamstring injuries, Haller has become the attacking force Hammers’ fans wanted to see from his very first day at the club. Haller now has a gluttony of support from Bowen and Saïd Benrahma, which has taken the limelight away from the Ivory Coast international and supplied him with the ammunition he was crying out for last season.  

VAVEL Logo