BY ROB SUTHERLAND
Crystal Palace secured an unlikely win against high-flying West Ham United in an entertaining encounter at the London Stadium thanks to a late Jordan Ayew goal – initially flagged offside but overturned by VAR.
Ayew latched on to a header from Martin Kelly to prod the ball home but the linesman’s flag went up. The Palace striker was clear in his belief that he was onside, and it took a lengthy review of replays to determine that the Eagles striker was not offside.
Palace had not beaten West Ham in their last eight encounters and for much of the opening hour of the game, it looked as if they would struggle to do so again.
West Ham were profligate in front of goal. Vicente Guaita twice made point-blank saves to deny Sebastian Haller, while Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini both missed opportunities too.
Palace had chances of their own. A long-range effort from James McCarthy was well saved by Roberto, and another chance created by some Wilfried Zaha brilliance saw Jeffrey Schlupp presented with a scoring chance which he failed to take.
The game finally saw its first goal when a run and cross from Ryan Fredericks 10 minutes into the second half was easily converted by Haller. It was arguably deserved.
Palace showed determination and steel to get themselves back into the game just nine minutes later. Cheikh Kouyate’s attempt to hook the ball back into the box was impeded by a flailing arm of Declan Rice, and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Patrick van Aanholt showed calmness on the spot and coolly placed the ball to the left of Roberto.
The match looked like it would peter out in a draw but that would change late in the game when a cross from substitute Andros Townsend was knocked down into the path of Ayew by Kelly, with the Ghanaian striker putting the Eagles 2-1 up in the 87th minute.
VAR reviews showed that Ayew was onside by the width of a knee, but it was enough for Oliver to award the goal. Palace saw out six minutes of added time to secure their first points at the London Stadium.
Roy Hodgson’s Eagles are fourth with 14 points.