|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray sees red but his double sinks West Ham
Jacob Steinberg at Upton Park
Published Saturday 28 February 2015 14.49 GMT
Until Alan Pardew decided to don his red and blue cape and swoop down to Selhurst Park as a returning hero at the end of December, Crystal Palace were in danger of sinking without a trace. Neil Warnock had booked them on a one-way ticket to the Championship.
Yet Pardew’s decision to answer the cry for help from the club where he distinguished himself as a player has had a revitalising effect on this side. Survival is in sight for Palace after they produced a perfect away performance to beat West Ham United 3-1, a win that was capped by three assists from Jason Puncheon and two goals from Glenn Murray, whose afternoon was only slightly marred by a needless red card in the second half. The other potential sour note for Palace was the moment when their captain, Mile Jedinak, caught Diafra Sakho with an elbow near the end. Jedinak denied any intent but the Football Association may disagree. “I don’t think there’s anything malicious in it,”Pardew said.
For West Ham, the disappointment was stinging and their winless run now stretches to six matches. Their defending from set-pieces was abysmal and this was a defeat that raises more doubts about the prospect of Sam Allardyce earning a new deal at the end of the season. The pressure will intensify and those who want Allardyce to leave have been provided with more ammunition.
From West Ham’s perspective, the first half was best summed up by a Mark Noble volley that went out for a throw and you knew the quality was low when even Alex Song’s radar was off. He was removed after 61 minutes.
Palace’s plan, to squeeze the space in front of their back four and then use their pace on the break, worked a treat and they have a 100% record in their five away matches since Pardew was appointed. Noble curled an early free-kick against the bar, but Jedinak dominated midfield and the absence of Fraizer Campbell, Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo did not lessen Palace’s adventure.
Their injuries meant that Murray was given a rare start and he had already squandered three fine opportunities before he opened the scoring shortly before half-time. “He’s just got that nous,” Pardew said.
A goal was not just on its way by the time Palace took the lead, it had called ahead to let West Ham know it was coming. Puncheon, who was labelled a “baller” by Pardew last week, floated a corner into the area from the right and although Murray’s header was on target, Aaron Cresswell should have dealt with it. Instead he sliced his attempted clearance and a wrong-footed Adrián could not stop the ball from trickling into the bottom-left corner. It was a farce.
If anything, West Ham were even worse at the start of the second half and Palace deservedly doubled their lead after 51 minutes, another Puncheon’s corner met by a thumping header from Scott Dann at the far post. Dann beat Reid too easily and he gave Adrián no chance.
Allardyce brought on Nenê for his debut and the Brazilian winger curled a shot against the right post from 18 yards, but West Ham were a shambles.
They were vulnerable whenever they were defending set pieces, unusually so for an Allardyce side, and Murray made it 3-0 when he headed in Puncheon’s free-kick from the left. “Even though Palace were better than us today, we’ve lost the game on that basis,” Allardyce said. “When you concede three, that’s our fault.”
Murray’s hopes of scoring a hat-trick were undone by a moment of madness. He had already gone close to picking up a second booking in the first half and he left Mike Dean with no alternative but to send him off when he caught the Reid with a late challenge. The red card forced Palace to defend and Valencia dragged West Ham back into the game when he swept a shot past Speroni from 20 yards with 14 minutes left.
West Ham had chances after that, yet the most damning indictment of their performance was that Valencia’s goal was their first shot on target.
Chelsea are the visitors to Upton Park on Wednesday.