Crystal Palace 2-3 West Ham: Souček’s double helps The Hammers squeeze past Palace in feisty London derby  
(Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Crystal Palace, who had a nine-day break from their last outing, started the game brightly at Selhurst Park. Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring after three minutes, arrowing a shot past Lukas Fabianski.  

But West Ham fought back instantly. Tomáš Souček scored his 6th and 7th of the season, twice arriving at the back post to put The Hammers into the lead before half time.  

Craig Dawson extended West Ham’s unbeaten run for 2021, when he thumped home an Aaron Cresswell corner, midway through the second half. 

Michy Batshuayi plundered a consolation for Palace right at the death, but West Ham held on and moved into the top four of the Premier League and into the illustrious Champions League places.  

Story of the match 

As the rain lashed down over Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace, who were unbeaten in their last four Premier League fixtures against West Ham, started the evening on the front foot.  

Luka Milivojevic picked up the ball just inside the West Ham half before picking out Wilfried Zaha, who darted towards goal.

Palace’s talisman let the ball run though his legs for Christian Benteke, and the Belgian delicately touched the ball back to Zaha, who, from just outside the area, arrowed his shot with venom past the helpless Lukas Fabianski for his 9th of the season. 

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David Moyes has instilled a ‘never say die’ attitude into his side, and with their first attack of the game, West Ham found an equaliser instantly.  

Pablo Fornals, who was trapped on the right-hand side with three defenders surrounding him, lifted the ball into Michail Antonio, as the striker burst into the area on a marauding run.

Antonio received the ball at the by-line and then hooked it into the danger zone for Tomáš Souček, who nodded the ball delicately past Vicente Guaita to bring the game level. 

Souček, who has been the centerpiece of David Moyes’ West Ham revolution, doubled his tally halfway through the first half.

Left-back, Aaron Cresswell, whipped a tantalising ball to the back post, which fell into the lap of Souček; he took one touch before poking the ball past Guaita and shocking Palace into a frenzy.  

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With Palace being overrun in the midfield, outclassed, and out-worked; Antonio had two chances to further dampen the Eagles’ mood. 

He broke behind the dilapidated Palace defence, and was left one-on-one with Guaita, but saw his attempt ruefully cannon off the post.

The 30-year-old then had another glorious opportunity to add to West Ham’s tally, directing a shanked Cresswell shot towards goal. However, through the crowd of players, the ball directed off the post once again.  

Following a half time team talk from Roy Hodgson, Palace came out for the second half with a point to prove.

On the 47th minute, Wilfried Zaha breezed past Craig Dawson and set himself up for a one-on-one with Fabianski. However, Zaha lacked the cutting edge and hammered the ball straight at the onrushing goalkeeper.  

Antonio squandered another opportunity on the 60th minute mark as the Eagles switched off from a throw in and allowed Saïd Benrahma to drive at the heart of the defence.

The Algerian picked out Antonio at the near post, but the striker could only send his effort straight at Guaita, who somehow clawed the shot away at point blank range.  

Palace’s evening went from bad to worse just moments later.

On the 65th minute, Cresswell, yet again, delivered a pinpoint corner into Palace’s area. Craig Dawson, who has warmed to West Ham fans with his valiant performances, was left unmarked to head home and practically seal all three points for the visitors; as the game entered its dying embers.  

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Palace attempted to get back in the game - with Hodgson throwing on Jordan Ayew and Michy Batshuayi - but the Eagles lacked the quality, passion and fight shown by David Moyes’ side to really threaten The Hammers’ goal.  

Batshuayi did grab a consolation for Palace right at the death. Ayew back-heeled a pass into the path of Batshuayi, who chipped the ball over Fabianski for his first goal since returning on loan from Chelsea in the summer.  

Takeaways  

Tyrick Mitchell continues to impress  

Crystal Palace’s defensive problems have been laid bare for all to witness. Having only mustered two clean sheets all season, added to a constant changing back four, Palace have struggled at what Hodgson would proclaim as his own personal forte.  

While the defence continues to rebuild amongst ever-changing personnel, academy graduate, Tyrick Mitchell, continues to be a shining light and a constant growing factor to excite Palace fans.  

When asked by VAVEL UK how impressed Hodgson has been by Mitchell trajectory, the 73-year-old said, “Tyrick, I think, has done extremely well, especially in the last two or three games against such top-quality opposition.”   

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Despite the result, Mitchell continues to be a beacon of hope and a key figure upon which Palace can base their summer rebuild around.  

Rice & Soucek continue to impress 

The core heart string of David Moyes’ West Ham revolution has been the formidable combination of Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček.  

Souček, described by Jose Mourinho as Moyes’ “new Fellaini,” has been the driving force in the middle of the pitch, marauding forward to plunder goals, whilst also battling in defence to help his team at both ends. 

Souček, who scored two, was Palace’s Achilles heel for the entire 90 minutes. When the Eagles went forward, Souček was there to thwart the attack. When the visitors attacked, Souček was always in the right place to get a shot off.  

As for Rice, his keen eye for a defence splitting pass and hustling nature to win the ball back for his side, played an integral role in helping The Hammers leave Selhurst Park with all three points.  

Teams  

Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Kouyate, Mitchell, McArthur, Milivojevic (Reidewald 73), Townsend (Batshuayi 66), Eze, Zaha, Benteke (Ayew 73). 

West Ham: Fabianski, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Coufal, Soucek, Rice, Benrahma (Nobel 87), Bowen (Federicks 81), Antonio (Yarmolenko 83), Fornals.  

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