West Ham make storming comeback to grab point at Norwich
PUBLISHED: 17:17 13 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:17 13 February 2016
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Hammers star Dimitri Payet inspired the team to come back from two goals down at Carrow Road
Norwich City 2 West Ham United 2
Two goals in two minutes saw the Hammers salvage a late draw at Carrow Road, where it looked like Norwich City were about to take flight with all three points.
Second half strikes by Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan looked to have put the lowly strugglers on the way to a long-awaited win but late goals from Dimitri Payet and Mark Noble knocked the Canaries off their perch with a quarter-hour remaining.
Following Tuesday evening’s thrilling FA Cup finish, Slaven Bilić made four changes from the side that had finally prevailed over Liverpool in that frantic finale as hamstring injuries to Winston Reid and Joey O’Brien meant that James Collins and Sam Byram earned call-ups, while Alex Song and Adrian came in for Cheikhou Kouyaté (concussion) and substitute Darren Randolph, who was joined on the bench by rookie, 18-year-old midfielder, Marcus Browne.
Returning to Premier League action, the sixth-placed Hammers soon had midweek cup hero Angelo Ogbonna to thank for once again putting his head into the thick of it to clear an awkward early cross, while Canaries’ captain Russell Martin also fired over for the side kicking off in 19th-spot.
Indeed, last Saturday’s defeat at bottom-placed Aston Villa - a forlorn fifth on the spin - had seen the hosts slip into the bottom three and, after that 0-2 reverse, Alex Neil made a trio of changes bringing in John Ruddy, Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome for Youssouf Mulumbu plus substitutes Declan Rudd and Dieumerci Mbokani.
While one former Hammer - Gary O’Neil - found himself in the starting line-up, Matt Jarvis could only make the bench against his old side, who found themselves restricted to trying their luck from range as Aaron Cresswell, Enner Valencia and Pedro Obiang each fired over in the opening 20 minutes.
Midway through the half, Collins was booked for tripping the escaping Hoolahan after Song had sold the Welshman short but, fortunately, for the Cameroon midfielder, Brady curled the consequent free-kick over the West Ham wall, Adrian and the crossbar.
With a stop-start first half being punctuated by a string of niggly free-kicks and offside flags, Obiang was also cautioned for running Redmond off the pitch and, after Jonny Howson sent a rising 18-yarder inches over, Steven Naismith saw yellow for battering Byram.
Collins also looped a weak header over the bar, before Naismith scuffed wide and then Ruddy plucked the ball off Michail Antonio’s head after Payet curled a teasing right-wing free-kick towards the edge of the six-yard box.
And in first-half stoppage time, the red-faced Redmond’s airshot was followed by Martin’s wayward shot high into the chilly East Anglian air to sum up a lacklustre half in front of goal for both teams.
Just after the restart, Jerome sent an angled 18-yarder wide of both the scrambling Adrian and the far post and, shortly afterwards, the sliding Naismith failed to connect six yards out.
Hoolahan then robbed the complacent Collins on half and advanced to the 18-yard line, where his unselfish, attempted square ball to Jerome was brilliantly intercepted by Ogbonna.
But the Hammers failed to heed that warning and, on 55 minutes, Brady nicked the ball off Antonio deep in West Ham territory and, after holding off Antonio, the Irishman curled a cracking 20-yarder around Collins, over the flying Adrian’s left glove and in-off the crossbar.
On the hour, Bilić responded with a double-switch that saw Victor Moses and Andy Carroll replace Song and Valencia (ankle) but the new boys were still finding their feet on the Carrow Road turf, when the Canaries doubled their lead.
A raid down the left saw the ball played inside to Naismith, whose 18-yard shot deflected off Collins heel into the path of Hoolahan and with the flag staying down, he held off Byram before lashing home his fourth goal of the season from six yards.
In reply, Antonio saw his low shot smothered by the hitherto redundant Ruddy but that was to be the West Ham wideboy’s last action of the afternoon as he stood down for Emmanuel Emenike.
The Hammers looked dead and buried but with new-found attacking impetus, they pulled themselves level with two quick-fire goals.
On 74 minutes, the fresh legs of Moses saw him get the better of both Martin and Timm Klose in the Norwich area and, although Ruddy managed to parry his low 15-yarder, Payet arrived at the far post to drill home his seventh goal of the campaign and give Hammers hope.
And just two minutes later, the fantastic Frenchman turned provider when he collected from Carroll and cut-back from the by-line for Noble to send an unstoppable 18-yarder inside the flying Ruddy’s left-hand post.
The skipper’s fourth goal of the season meant a nervy Norwich finish for the yellow and green fans in the crowd of 27,101 and, with the game now finally in full flow, Emenike might even have snatched an unlikely last-gasp win but Ruddy denied him, while at the other end, West Ham had a couple of late scares as both sides settled for a point.
CANARIES: Ruddy, Klose, Redmond, Martin, Bassong, O’Neil, Brady, Howson, Hoolahan (Hoolahan 84), Jerome (Mbokani 84) Naismith (Olsson 76). Unused subs: Rudd, Bamford, Jarvis, Pinto.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Byram, Cresswell, Collins, Ogbonna, Song (Moses 62), Noble, Obiang, Payet, Antonio (Antonio 70), Valencia (Carroll 62). Unused subs: Randolph, Parfit-Williams, Oxford, Browne.
Booked: Collins (23), Obiang (31), Naismith (33), Howson (90+2)
Referee: Mike Jones.