West Ham 3-0 Crystal Palace. By Paul Donovan at the London Stadium
THIS game may have begun under the cloud of Dimitri Payet’s refusal to play for West Ham but ended with the fans extolling the virtues of those who do, most notably Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio.
It was Carroll’s miraculous acrobatic strike in the 78th minute to put West Ham two up that lit up the afternoon and brought the fans to their feet.
Up until the last 25 minutes, the game had been a fairly drab affair with the two sides largely cancelling each other out.
The first half saw James Tomkins and Yohan Cabaye go close for the visitors, while Carroll volleyed over.
West Ham laboured to get any fluidity into their game, until midway through the second half, when Sam Byram came on at right back, replacing Angelo Ogbonna. The move released Antonio, whose industry set up all three of West Ham’s goals.
First, Mark Noble dropped a ball over the Palace rearguard, which Antonio controlled, beat the keeper and fired across for the onrushing Sofiane Feghouli to slot home.
The most spectacular moment of the game though came 10 minutes later, when Manuel Lanzini set Antonio away again on the left. The resulting cross saw Carroll to turn in the air, scissor kicking the ball on the volley into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
The icing on the cake came a few minutes later with Antonio picking the ball up from defence, striding forward and putting a slide rule pass into the path of Lanzini, who ran on to delightfully chip the ball over the outrushing keeper Wayne Hennessey into an empty net.
A happy Slaven Bilic told how Carroll regularly tries the scissors kick routine in training but usually hits the post. “It was a great goal and already a contender for goal of the season,” said Bilic.
He also praised provider Antonio, who had been suffering with flu and did not train on Friday. “He wants to play and showed brilliant determination and brilliant quality,” said the manager.
Palace manager Sam Allardyce felt his team were in control for the first 70 minutes, until they “gifted” West Ham the first goal.