West Ham fight back to secure draw against Braga in Portugal
Pre-season friendly: SC Braga 1 West Ham United 1
West Ham brought their pre-season fixtures to a close with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Champions League side SC Braga in Portugal this evening.
The home side took the lead in the first half with a Vinicius de Moraes penalty, but the Hammers grabbed a late equaliser through Winston Reid’s close-range effort.
Sam Allardyce named a strong starting XI for the Hammers, with new recruits Jussi Jaaskelainen, James Collins, Mohammed Diame and Modibo Maiga all starting, while James Tomkins – fresh from Team GB duty – was employed in a defensive midfield role.
The Hammers started the better of the two sides, but lacked that killer instinct, as intelligent build-up play was wasted with a poor shot or cross, but Quim was tested in the Braga goal with a 25-yard Tomkins effort after 15 minutes.
Moments later and West Ham came even closer to taking the lead, as Joey O’Brien – playing at left-back – was brought down on the edge of the Braga area.
However, stand-in captain Mark Noble’s curled effort was just glanced behind for a corner by the faintest touch of Quim’s gloves.
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The home side then came to life and found a way to counter West Ham’s passing and just after the half-hour mark took a somewhat undeserved lead.
Custodio’s long-range driven effort was well saved by Jaaskelainen, and as Collins blocked the follow-up cross, he was adjudged to have used his hand.
Despite the best protests of the West Ham players, Braga were awarded a penalty, with Vinicius sending Jaaskelainen the wrong way from the spot, giving the home side a slender lead heading into the break.
Braga emerged from the interval having changed from their home kit into their away kit, and the second half started quietly.
However, the Hammers were soon threatening the Braga goal, as Maiga came within inches of opening his account in claret and blue, jumping well to head towards goal.
Quim got a strong hand to the header though, and just managed to push the ball away.
Both teams then struggled to take hold of the game, before Matt Taylor came on for Carlton Cole, with Maiga moving to a more central striker position.
Daniel Potts then came on to replace Guy Demel, with O’Brien moving to right-back, before George Moncur was introduced in place of Diame.
With the game seemingly fading out into another defeat for West Ham, the Hammers won a late corner on the right.
Taylor whipped the ball in and Tomkins jumped highest, heading the ball back across goal for Reid to tap home from three yards, drawing the visitors level.
Despite a ferocious long-range drive that Jaaskelainen did well to tip over the final passage of play, the Hammers held on to secure a deserved draw.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel (Potts, 79), Reid, Collins, O’Brien, Tomkins, Diame (Moncur, 84), Noble, Maiga, Vaz Te, Cole (Taylor, 71). Subs not used: Henderson, O’Neil.