West Ham United 1
Crystal Palace 2
Jordan Ayew’s late, late goal won this evening’s London derby for Crystal Palace against West Ham at the London Stadium, and moved the Eagles into the Premier League’s top four.
Gary Cahill’s header down across goal was converted by Ayew, who was initially signalled offside, but after one of the closest VAR checks in the Premier League this season, and what seemed like an eternity, referee Michael Oliver was given permission to point to the centre spot and award the goal to the south Londoners.
Had they won the game, the home side would themselves have moved into the top four, but as soon as the pundits began talking up the Hammers, the Eagles swooped to produce another of those away performances they are capable of, and spoiled the party.
West Ham started the game in charge of possession, yet Palace looked the more likely to score in a first 20-minutes devoid of any clear-cut chances.
Palace’s growing confidence appeared to stir some life into the Hammers, who had the first real chance of the game after 29 minutes, when Sebastien Haller controlled Andriy Yarmolenko’s cross from the right, but all alone just outside the six yard box shot straight at Palace keeper Vincente Guaita.
Then Felipe Anderson’s header in the centre of the box following a cross from Ryan Fredericks was saved by Guaita, before Palace had their best chance of the half.
A change of pace from Wilfried Zaha, looking more focussed of late after his want-away summer, left Aaron Cresswell for dead, and Jeffrey Schlupp’s scuffed effort was hacked off the line by Fredericks.
There were two more big chances for the Hammers before the half was out, first Gary Cahill’s clearance smacked against Haller and forced a great reaction save from Guaita, then, as added time ticked away, Manuel Lanzini shot wide from the edge of the box when he really should have done better.
The Hammers did take the lead after 54 minutes when Fredericks’ cross was turned in by Haller – the French youth international’s fourth West Ham goal since his summer arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt.
It was a great team goal from the Hammers. They worked the ball first down the left then, when they met a brick wall, switched play to the right, before Fredericks broke free.
Shortly after the hour mark Cheikhou Kouyate’s right wing volleyed cross struck Declan Rice’s elbow and Aaron Cresswell, in the absence of usual penalty taker Luka Milivojevic, equalised for Palace.
The Hammers came back, however; Haller saw a volley blocked and Noble shot over the bar, before the late drama.
In the lead-up to this game there were comparisons between the current West Ham team and that which finished fifth in the Premier League in 1999-2000 - a side which included Ian Wright, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole.
But if they are going to achieve a similar placed finish this term, it is games like this they really need to win.
For Palace, their own superb start goes on.
West Ham: Roberto, Cresswell (Zabaleta), Yarmolenko (y, Wilshere)), Anderson, Lanzini (Fornals), Noble, Ogbonna, Haller (y), Diop, Fredericks (y), Rice
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward (y), van Aanholt, Kouyate, Ayew, Zaha, Schlupp, McArthur, McCarthy (Townsend) Cahill, Kelly
Referee: Michael Oliver