Second Half Super Show Stuns Palace
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 15 Jan 2017 12:48:00
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This fixture usually goes in favour of the visitors but West Ham United completed their first double of the season with an emphatic 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

Slaven Bilic made three changes from their last league game, as James Collins replaced Havard Nordtveit, while Mark Noble returned to captain the side and Andy Carroll filled in for the absent Dimitri Payet.

The Hammers were desperate to put recent events off the field behind them and although they seemed to be passing the ball around with confidence, their final-third play just eluded them at the key moments.

After last week's humiliating FA Cup exit, Bilic's men were keen to put on a show and almost opened the scoring on 26 minutes when the skipper played in Carroll, whose effort went just over the bar.

On their first visit to Stratford, the Eagles wanted to try to claim a first win for new manager and former Irons' boss Sam Allardyce and Yohan Cabaye forced a great save from Darren Randolph.

It wasn't only Allardyce who was returning to East London, as James Tomkins was playing against his former club for the first time and the majority that used to cheer his every move would have been thankful that he didn't make the most of a glorious chance to tap in, with Randolph stranded.

The home side were glad that it was goalless at half-time and knew that they needed to do better in the second-half.

They used the break to make their first change. Sam Byram, who was named in the squad for the first time since October was the replacement for Angelo Ogbonna. That allowed the manager to change formation and push Michail Antonio upfront to partner Carroll.

Within seconds of the restart, the move almost paid dividends, as the former Liverpool striker tried his luck and went very close.

By this point, the game was flowing from end to end and on 66 minutes, Byram found space on the right-hand edge of the area but his cross-shot  missed the target.

It didn't matter too much though, as just a minute later, the hosts were in front as Antonio broke clear of the visitors' defence, rounded Wayne Hennessey and played in Sofiane Feghouli, who slotted the ball into an empty net for his first league goal since his summer move from Valencia.

Palace goalkeeper Hennessey was powerless to stop Carroll's effort on 79 minutes when the striker was on the end of Antonio's cross and produced an amazing scissor-kick to effectively seal the victory.

Manuel Lanzini has scored every time he has come up against these opponents and this occasion was no different.

Antonio was thriving in his new role and on 86 minutes, the former Nottingham Forest man turned provider once again for Lanzini to add to his record against the Eagles; he produced a sumptuous chip over Hennessey to cap off what had been a superb afternoon for the hosts.

That was the Argentine's last contribution as just seconds later, he was replaced by Edimilson Fernandes.

Bilic made a final change with a minute of normal time to play, as he decided to end Antonio's day early and introduce Ashley Fletcher into the fray.

The Irons successfully negotiated three minutes of stoppage time to move themselves up to 12th in the Premier League table.

If this game was vital, the East Londoners have another crucial encounter next weekend as they travel to the Riverside Stadium to face newly-promoted Middlesbrough on Saturday.

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