Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 3: Hammers survive dramatic late fightback to keep pressure on Arsenal and top-4 hopes alive

WEST HAM stunned Crystal Palace with three first half goals and will hope history will repeat itself in the coming weeks.

Michail Antonio and a Manuel Lanzini double were enough to bury Palace and secure back to back wins that closed the gap on fourth placed Arsenal.

And boss David Moyes will now be desperate for his side to put together a big run of results to set them up for the rest of the season.

This time last year the Hammers embarked on a brilliant run of form which catapulted them up the table and into European contention.

January saw four successive league wins plus two in the FA Cup, providing the base for the club to finally finish sixth and secure a Europa League spot.

This time round the sights are set higher and the top four is the prize they want, but in terms of form the two years are almost identical.

Twelve months ago they endured a miserable December and the same can be said for this time round as they relinquished hold of fourth spot and fell behind both Arsenal and Tottenham.

So recording back to back league wins not only gets them back on the heels of the Gunners and Spurs, who have games in hand, but it also suggests they are back to their cavalier best.

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Certainly the drop in form from a few weeks ago has been consigned to history and that will be the biggest relief for Moyes as he enters a month when he can finally strengthen his tired squad.

Not that West Ham completely blew Palace away – far from it in fact.

For the South London side could, and should, have gone into the break well in the game instead of three down.

But while the Hammers were clinical in front of goal, Patrick Vieira’s side were wasteful – right from the opening minute when Jeffrey Schlupp could only fire against the post from six yards out.

Schlupp then took too long to get a shot off when unmarked at the far post to allow Ben Johnson the chance to make a vital block to save his side.

The opening quarter of the match was largely a case of Palace in total control, but even so it took a brilliant double save from Vicente Guiata to stop Michail Antonio then Said Benrahma from opening the scoring on 14 minutes.

That was the first sign of West Ham’s threat going forward and one Palace failed to combat, for on 23 minutes East London side took the lead.

Benrahma was allowed too much time to whip in a cross from the left and Antonio stole in behind Marc Guehi to touch past Guaita into the net.

The goal had come against the run of play, and just two minutes later Palace were reeling even more as the Hammers doubled their lead.

Declan Rice strode imperiously forward from halfway to cut a pass inside to Manuel Lanzini, and the Argentine bewitched the home defence with his footwork before unleashing a shot in off the underside of the bar.

To their credit Palace refused to give up the game, creating chances frequently but on each occasion they blew it at the vital moment.

None more so than Odsonne Edouard who crashed a shot against the bar after fine work out wide from Ayew when he should really have pulled a goal back for the Eagles.

Christian Benteke was twice denied by smart Lukasz Fabianski saves as Vieira’s side threatened to find a way back into the game.

But deep into first half stoppage time the home side gifted a third to West Ham to end all hopes of a recovery.

There was no one within yards of Luka Milivojevic when the ball looped to him just on the edge of the area but for some reason the midfielder handled, and after a VAR referral a penalty was given that Lanzini slammed home.

Three goals to the good, the Hammers were happy to contain Palace in the second half, and ask Palace to unlock them.

Time and again they created half chances but every time Benteke and Edouard were unable to put the finishing touches on some good approach play.

They finally found a way through seven minutes from time when sub Michael Olise cross from the right and Edouard nipped in to touch past Fabianski.

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That goal had Moyes fuming on the touchline as he saw a clean sheet go up in smoke, though in truth Palace should have hit the target long before then.

And they got a second to set up a nervy finish just before stoppage time when Olise’s free-kick eluded everybody and crept in the far corner.

But there was not enough time for Palace to mount a big comeback as West Ham saw out time to secure the win needed to return to fifth.

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