Saturday, 12 February 2011

West Brom 3 - 3 West Ham

Demba Ba scored two goals on his full debut as West Ham tenaciously fought back from three goals behind to claim a point at West Brom.
Goals from Graham Dorrans, Jerome Thomas and a Winston Reid own goal gave the Baggies what looked like an unassailable 3-0 half-time lead.
But a Ba double and a Carlton Cole header denied West Brom victory in front of their new boss Roy Hodgson.
Both sides spurned late chances to win what was an enthralling contest.
The Roy Hodgson era got off to a flying start when, after just three minutes, Graham Dorrans found space on the edge of the West Ham penalty area and unleashed an unstoppable rising drive beyond Robert Green.
West Ham had barely recovered from Dorrans' stunning opener before Jerome Thomas had doubled the home side's lead.
Thomas picked up Fortune's pass on the left wing, before bending the ball brilliantly inside the far post, taking full advantage of some woeful West Ham defending.
But West Brom were rampant and their lead should have been stretched to three when Peter Odemwingie escaped the attention of Wayne Bridge at Mark Noble's corner, but could only find Green with his close-range header.
West Ham thought they were back in the game when Carlton Cole latched onto Scott Parker's neat through pass, but the striker was flagged offside, despite appearing to be level.
It was end-to-end action as West Ham looked for route back into the game, the clearer chances fell to the home side, who thought they should have had a penalty when the lively Thomas appeared to be pulled down in the box by Winston Reid.
But West Brom eventually made it three in the 32nd minute - and the hapless Reid was at fault again.
Graham Dorrans' free kick from the left caused yet more disarray in the penalty area, deflecting off Reid and into his own net.
At 3-0, West Ham looked down-and-out but the Hammers showed glimpses of the brilliant comeback that was to follow, when Ba found space at Mark Noble's corner only to see his shot expertly palmed onto the post by Boaz Myhill and eventually hacked off the line by Morrison.
Moments later, Gary O'Neil rattled the crossbar with Myhill beaten this time.
But West Ham were not to be denied a goal back five minutes into the second half - taking advantage of the kind of questionable defending that was a feature of both side's play.
Ba, making his first West Ham start following his move from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, got the goal when he latched on to Noble's ball into the danger area and, under pressure from Paul Scharner, Ba chested the ball down and turned it in from close-range.
The visitors capitalised on West Brom's vulnerability just eight minutes when Carlton Cole threw himself at the ball inside the six yard area. Despite picking up a head injury for his troubles, Cole's brave header set up a thrilling finale.
Green kept West Ham in the match with an excellent save to his left after Odemwingie skipped away from two challenges before attempting to curl in from the edge of the box.
That saved proved as crucial as the second-half introduction of Frederic Piquionne, whose presence in attack further unsettled West Brom, who breathed again when Piquionne's header crashed back off the bar.
The three-man attack of Piquionne, Cole and Ba worked well for West Ham as the latter saw his shot from 12 yards cleared off the line after a jinking run by the influential Noble on the left.
Just as it was looking as though the Baggies might hold on for an invaluable win in their quest for survival, Ba dashed those hopes with a well taken equaliser.
Jonas Olsson inadvertently flicked Noble's cross from the right into the path of Ba, who was waiting unmarked at the far post, to send an accomplished volley past Myhill.
In a gripping finale, Piquionne blazed over and Odemwingie missed two decent chances to win the contest, ensuring West Ham climb off the foot of the table with this well-earned point.

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