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Soucek double sends Hammers into top four

Tomas Soucek
Since his debut in February 2020, only Bruno Fernandes (19) has scored more PL goals than Tomas Soucek (10) among midfielders

West Ham continued their flawless start to 2021 with another impressive win to move into the top four of the Premier League.

Crystal Palace took an early lead through their returning talisman Wilfried Zaha, but David Moyes’ side were soon back on terms through Tomas Soucek and from there on in dominated.

The free-scoring Soucek added another and Michail Antonio will feel he should have had a hat-trick of his own, twice hitting the post and seeing Vicente Guaita make a wonderful reflex save to keep him out.

Craig Dawson did add the third with a routine header from a corner as Roy Hodgson’s side continued their own run of form – the mirror image of West Ham’s resurgence.

Michy Batshuayi’s late strike for the hosts took some of the shine off the scoreline for West Ham but in truth they were rarely troubled.

Three points made it six wins in a row in all competitions for the visitors, but Palace – still a healthy 11 points clear of danger – have now won one in 10.

Europe the target for West Ham?

The Hammers sit fourth in the table, above champions Liverpool, a scenario few would have imagined just a year ago.

West Ham were 17th in the Premier league, just one point above the relegation zone, when Moyes returned for a second spell in December 2019.

Now he may have his sights on matching the club’s best ever Premier league finish of fifth in 1999 – although he will know as well as any manager not to take his side’s form for granted in this most unpredictable of seasons.

Zaha’s brilliant early goal had the Hammers on the back foot right away but they settled well and were level when Antonio hooked a ball across for the ever dangerous Soucek to power in a header.

The Czech, a relative bargain at £19m, has had a great year under Moyes and soon added a second, controlling a deep free-kick on his thigh before smashing in at the near post.

Straight from the restart Antonio hit the post from the edge of the area and he did the same before the break, turning a miscued shot from Aaron Cresswell on to the woodwork.

His misses would not matter though, despite Batshuayi’s stoppage-time finish. Dawson’s powerful header made it five wins for Moyes in five matches at Selhurst Park, for five different teams – Preston (2001), Everton (2004), Manchester United (2014), Sunderland (2017) and West Ham (2021).

Have the Eagles landed?

In contrast to the Hammers’ confidence and verve, it is threatening to be a washout of a season for Palace.

Well clear of danger but also far short of challenging the top six, Hodgson’s side could not build on the bright start they made when Zaha played a one-two with Christian Benteke and thrashed in from the edge of the box.

Zaha aside, Palace struggled to create anything despite fielding an attacking-looking side on paper. West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski only made one save all night and the hosts had just six efforts on goal to West Ham’s 17.

Batshuayi did manage to get a second goal in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time, a neat finish from a Jordan Ayew flick, but the game had long since gone.

Hammers on a roll – the stats

  • West Ham have won their first six competitive games in a single calendar year for the first time in their history.
  • West Ham have won four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since December 2018, while manager David Moyes has now done so in the competition for the first time since December 2013 with Manchester United.
  • Each of the first three shots in Crystal Palace vs West Ham were scored – the first time that each of the first three attempts in a Premier League game have all been converted since Everton vs Leicester in April 2017.
  • Tomas Soucek became the fifth Czech Republic player to reach 10 Premier League goals, with the West Ham midfielder doing so in just 33 appearances, the joint-fewest games taken by a Czech player to hit this milestone (level with Milan Baros).

What’s next?

Palace will look for an improved display against Wolves on Saturday (15:00 GMT) while West Ham host out-of-sorts Liverpool on Sunday (16:30 GMT)

Player of the match

SoucekTomas Soucek

Crystal Palace

  1. Squad number31Player nameGuaita

  2. Squad number23Player nameBatshuayi

  3. Squad number25Player nameEze

  4. Squad number11Player nameZaha

  5. Squad number8Player nameKouyaté

  6. Squad number18Player nameMcArthur

  7. Squad number9Player nameJ Ayew

  8. Squad number44Player nameRiedewald

  9. Squad number2Player nameWard

  10. Squad number24Player nameCahill

  11. Squad number27Player nameMitchell

  12. Squad number10Player nameTownsend

  13. Squad number4Player nameMilivojevic

  14. Squad number20Player nameBenteke

West Ham United

  1. Squad number28Player nameSoucek

  2. Squad number41Player nameRice

  3. Squad number9Player nameBenrahma

  4. Squad number15Player nameDawson

  5. Squad number18Player nameFornals

  6. Squad number5Player nameCoufal

  7. Squad number30Player nameAntonio

  8. Squad number21Player nameOgbonna

  9. Squad number3Player nameCresswell

  10. Squad number20Player nameBowen

  11. Squad number1Player nameFabianski

  12. Squad number7Player nameYarmolenko

  13. Squad number16Player nameNoble

  14. Squad number24Player nameFredericks

Line-ups

Crystal Palace

Formation 4-4-2

  • 31Guaita
  • 2Ward
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 24Cahill
  • 27Mitchell
  • 10TownsendSubstituted forBatshuayiat 66′minutes
  • 18McArthur
  • 4MilivojevicSubstituted forRiedewaldat 73′minutes
  • 25Eze
  • 20BentekeSubstituted forJ Ayewat 73′minutes
  • 11Zaha

Substitutes

  • 1Butland
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 6Dann
  • 9J Ayew
  • 17Clyne
  • 22McCarthy
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 34Kelly
  • 44Riedewald

West Ham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Fabianski
  • 5Coufal
  • 15Dawson
  • 21Ogbonna
  • 3Cresswell
  • 28Soucek
  • 41Rice
  • 20BowenSubstituted forFredericksat 81′minutes
  • 9BenrahmaSubstituted forNobleat 87′minutes
  • 18Fornals
  • 30AntonioSubstituted forYarmolenkoat 83′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Balbuena
  • 7Yarmolenko
  • 10Lanzini
  • 16Noble
  • 23Diop
  • 24Fredericks
  • 25Martin
  • 31Johnson
  • 45Odubeko

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3.

  2. Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3.

  3. Goal! Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3. Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.

  4. Offside, West Ham United. Aaron Cresswell tries a through ball, but Andriy Yarmolenko is caught offside.

  5. Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Vladimir Coufal.

  6. Foul by Joel Ward (Crystal Palace).

  7. Pablo Fornals (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Substitution, West Ham United. Mark Noble replaces Saïd Benrahma.

  9. Attempt missed. James McArthur (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.

  10. Substitution, West Ham United. Andriy Yarmolenko replaces Michail Antonio.

  11. Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by James McArthur.

  12. Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Foul by Declan Rice (West Ham United).

  14. Substitution, West Ham United. Ryan Fredericks replaces Jarrod Bowen.

  15. Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).

  16. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.

  18. Attempt blocked. Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Pablo Fornals.

  19. Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jordan Ayew replaces Christian Benteke.

  20. Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Luka Milivojevic.

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