West Ham 2-2 Crystal Palace: Conor Gallagher brace sees London rivals share Premier League points

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Conor Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, scored Crystal Palace’s first two goals of the Premier League season to earn a point for his side away to West Ham.

The visitors were second best for much of the contest and were deservedly behind at the break after Pablo Fornal’s opener on 40 minutes rounded off a superb team move.

Gallagher’s first was a scrappy finish just before the hour mark and the antithesis of Michail Antonio’s bullet that restored West Ham’s lead six minutes later.

But parity was restored only a minute after that with Gallagher producing the moment of the match. His faked a shot with his left foot, dragged the ball across his body and then arrowed it into the bottom corner.

West Ham began the weekend at the summit of the league table and were chasing a third from their first three games for the first time in their history.

Michail Antonio’s bullet finish maintains his  fine form (AFP via Getty Images)
Michail Antonio’s bullet finish maintains his fine form (AFP via Getty Images)

They bossed the opening exchanges with England international Declan Rice dictating the play from the base of a five man midfield. Despite the dominance of possession, however, the Hammers lack penetration.

Antonio was always going to be involved in changing that. Before the match, the 31-year-old had been involved in 10 goals in his last nine Premier League appearances, scoring six and assisting four of them. A more selfish striker would have searched for another goal when he found himself inside the Palace box but instead put it on a plate for the onrushing Fornals who stroked home his second in as many matches.

It was no less that West Ham deserved but perhaps David Moyes was already wondering if his side had let something slip by not being further ahead.

Palace started the second half in ponderous fashion. New boss Patrick Vieira has promised to play an attractive brand of football but his team looked incapable of stringing more than a few passes together. West Ham’s high press stifled space. Ironically, the Palace of old might have better exploited it on the counter.

The equaliser came from nothing and sparked the away team into life. As if touched by magic the men in yellow found a spring in their step and began to win the 50/50 balls.

Vieira has much to ponder, but h has a first point as a Premier League manager (REUTERS)
Vieira has much to ponder, but h has a first point as a Premier League manager (REUTERS)

Which is why Antonio’s goal was potentially ruinous. A long ball over the top allowed the big man to lean into Joachim Andersen and ride the Dane as if he were a rugby tackling bag. When the ball bounced, Antonio didn’t hesitate and lashed it first time with his left. Before Vincente Guaita could react the net was already bulging.

That appeared to be that but 60 seconds down the road and Palace were back on level terms. If Gallagher’s opener was a dog’s breakfast this was a gourmet treat as he wriggled and let loose in the blink of an eye.

Both sides had chances to win it in extra time. Palace defender Marc Guehi should have done better with his header following a Gallagher free kick and instead blazed it over the bar from close range. And Antonio’s tired legs meant he couldn’t find the telling pass from a swift counter attack shortly before the final whistle.

When it did sound, the visitors were unquestionably the happier of the two. Vieira has a lot of work to do, and must find a way of linking his midfield and his front three. But he now has a point and his first goals as a Premier League manager.

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