Brighton Rocked by Hammers Comeback
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 03 Jan 2019 17:39:00
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West Ham United ended their festive fixture programme and started 2019 with a stunning second-half comeback to earn a share of the points in a 2-2 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion in Stratford on Wednesday night.

Manuel Pellegrini made three changes to the side that lost to Burnley on Sunday, as Pablo Zabaleta returned to the starting line-up after missing the last two games with illness and took the captaincy from Mark Noble who dropped to bench. Pedro Obiang came in, while Andy Carroll made his first start in exactly a year as he replaced Lucas Pérez who also took his place amongst the substitutes.

New signing Samir Nasri was included in the squad but was only fit enough for the bench.

West Ham were looking for their first Premier League win over the Seagulls and despite having one day less to prepare for this game, the Hammers started the brighter of the two sides and created all the early openings through Marko Arnautovic. Unfortunately for the majority inside the stadium though, the striker was unable to take advantage.

The Austrian's first effort was off target, while his second produced a diving save from Brighton goalkeeper David Button.

Whilst Arnautovic was the main threat, Felipe Anderson also tried his luck. Carroll's clever header was intercepted by Martín Montoya but he made a hash of clearing the ball and instead, the Brazilian regained possession but he couldn't make the most of his effort and fired it straight at Button.

Solly March had a good opportunity for the visitors as half-time approached but it wasn't good enough to beat Hammers' goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

It was a first-half that showed glimpses of what both teams could achieve if they were on their game but neither side created very much, meaning it was still all to play for after the break.
 
There was disappointment for Carroll as he had to be replaced by Pérez during the break, following a clash of heads with Seagulls' defender Lewis Dunk in the first period.

Given their less than impressive showing at Turf Moor three days ago, the Irons were keen to get at least something from this encounter and they were on the front foot again when the second-half got underway.

Robert Snodgrass spurned a decent opportunity, before Anderson took over and despite getting himself into a good position, his effort was not too far wide.

Chris Hughton's men are renowned for their set-piece routines and it was two corners that caused the home side to come unstuck. A clearance was volleyed back past Fabianski by Dale Stephens after the ball fell into his path.

Two minutes later, the away end were cheering again, as visiting skipper Shane Duffy stabbed home to leave the home support fearing another loss from a game they really should win.

Then came the usual visiting teams rendition of "we're winning away..." You know what comes next!!! However, it didn't last too long.

The East Londoners had no problem finding goals when Arnautovic suffered his hamstring injury but in all honesty, it is a lot better when he is on the pitch.

He blasted an effort straight at Button from out of nowhere before Pellegrini made a double change as he introduced Noble and Antonio for Pedro Obiang and Snodgrass.

Both changes made a huge difference as Noble set Arnautovic away with a superb pass and he managed to elude the attentions of Duffy before beating Button on 66 minutes.

Quick as a flash, West Ham found the equaliser and it was "that man" again as this time he was set up by Antonio.

The substitute almost got in on the act himself but he sent his effort inches wide.

The tempo of the game then appeared to come down a notch and after four minutes of stoppage time were signalled, both teams had to settle for a point and that was enough to lift the Irons up to tenth place in the table.

West Ham take a break from league action this weekend as their attention turns to the third round of the Emirates FA Cup and a home tie with Sky Bet Championship side Birmingham City in a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.

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