Benrahma’s late goal earns Hammers vital point in 1-1 draw against Brighton
By Alessandro Schiavone at The Amex Stadium
Said Benrahma‘s late goal earned a precious point for West Ham who battled back to earn a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium
But any lingering hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are now surely over.
Benrahma erased Danny Welbeck’s dinked finish with a sumptuous effort in off the post from distance to finally open his West Ham account after failing to break his duck in 27 outings for the Hammers following his big-money move from London rivals Brentford.
It would have taken a consistent top-drawer performance to end a streak of seven games without a win against the Seagulls in the Premier League, but the Hammers only threatened sporadically and had long spells throughout the game when they failed to turn possession into something tangible.
Michail Antonio in the first period and Tomas Soucek after the interval spurned two chances each to open the scoring before former Watford star Welbeck struck to avenge last season’s relegation six-pointer 3-1 thumping that put a dent in Watford’s hopes of beating the drop.
In the early stages of the game, Alireza Jakanbaksh played a ball into the box for Welbeck who expertly got in behind the defence but his former Watford colleague Craig Dawson came to the rescue to repel the threat.
After 20 minutes, West Ham nearly managed to break down Brighton‘s stubborn and astute defence but Antonio could not flick Aaron Cresswell’s dangerous cross past Robert Sanchez.
The Hammers grew into the game and were more adventurous with each passing minute. Antonio came close again when Jesse Lingard’s cross picked him out, but the versatile former Nottingham Forest striker directed a free header wide at the half-hour mark.
With four minutes to the break, Cresswell then combined with Lingard to make an overlapping run and lay off to Pablo Fornals but the Spaniard lacked the killer instinct as his tame effort was blocked by Brighton’s rearguard from 12 yards out.
Just before the break Soucek’s venomous effort from distance was pushed away by Robert Sanchez as the lively first-half ended with the Hammers on the front foot yet scoreless.
The enterprising and expansive east Londoners forced the issue at the start of the second period. Inside 30 seconds Antonio’s effort from outside the area flashed over the bar before another opportunity went begging in the 50th minute when Czech Republic international Soucek soared to meet Cresswell’s cross only for his flicked header to completely miss the target.
Declan Rice, who missed six games through injury, showed how vital he really is for David Moyes’ team thanks to his phenomenal ability to break up the play, regain possession and launch quick counter-attacks by spreading the play. And he even had a go himself but miscued his effort from 20 yards out.
Brighton, who had looked out of their depth in the top third, then spurned two golden opportunities in quick succession to punish the Hammers through Jakanbakhsh, who first saw his effort pushed away by Fabianski as he aimed for the far corner from range. Minutes later, the Iranian winger then beat the on-rushing Hammers goalkeeper to a long ball forward down the right only to fire a shot inches wide with the goal gaping from an acute angle.
With eight minutes to go Dawson flicked a header just wide of the post from Lingard’s cross before Brighton exposed the Hammers backline, who has now conceded in each of their last eight games. The last time Fabianski’s goal remained unbreached was against Leeds United at the beginning of March.
Out of nowhere and just when the chances had dried up for the Seagulls, Welbeck gave Brighton the lead with a dinked finish over Fabianski following Tau’s through ball.
But the combative and tenacious Hammers did not throw in the towel, and less than three minutes later Benrahma delivered the magic that finally opened up Brighton when he curled home an exquisite effort from outside the box.
Only time will tell how invaluable this earned point proves to be for their European hopes but the spirit, character and resolute attitude West Ham showed after falling behind exemplifies what a remarkable job Moyes has done in transforming the mentality of his players.
Brighton & Hove Albion 4-4-1-1
26 Robert Sanchez- 17 Steven Alzate- 3 Ben White- 4 Adam Webster- 33 Daniel Burn- 13 Pascal Gross- - 8 Yves Bissouma- 15 Jakub Moder-11 Leandro Trossard- 16 Alireza Jakanbakhsh-18 Danny Welbeck
West Ham United 4-2-3-1
1 Lukasz Fabianski- 3 Aaron Cresswell- 21 Angelo Ogbonna-15 Craig Dawson- 5 Vladimir Coufal- 41 Declan Rice- 28 Tomas Soucek- 18 Pablo Fornals- 11 Jesse Lingard- 20 Jarrod Bowen- 30 Michail Antonio