West Ham United won their third consecutive New Year’s Day game for the first time but they did it the hard way, as they started 2022 with a 3-2 triumph against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
David Moyes made one change to the side that took all three points from Vicarage Road four days earlier, as Declan Rice returned from suspension to make his 150th Premier League appearance for the Irons and replaced club Captain Mark Noble, who dropped back to the bench.
Michael Oliver was originally set to be in charge of this encounter but for the second consecutive game to involve the Hammers, Darren England stepped up to take his place.
Both teams were victorious on Tuesday and wanted to build some momentum. It was the home side who nearly made the perfect start to the game, as Christian Benteke set up Jeffrey Schlupp who hit the post within seconds of the match getting underway.
The home side continued to apply pressure as Luka Milivojević tried his luck with a free-kick but it did little to trouble visiting goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański, as it went over the bar.
Having hit the post early on, Schlupp thought he would try and get in on the act again but Ben Johnson was perfectly placed to make the block.
After withstanding that onslaught from Patrick Viera’s side, West Ham turned on the style and created chance after chance. Although Vladimír Coufal was off target with his attempt, Eagles’ stopper Vicente Guaita saved from both Michail Antonio and Saïd Benrahma.
Benrahma was then involved in a lot of the play as he took responsibility for their next opportunity. Unfortunately though, he headed wide before combining well with Antonio to allow the visitors to go in front on twenty three minutes.
Less than three minutes later, Moyes’ side doubled their advantage, as West Ham’s vice-captain was in space and played in Manuel Lanzini who struck a beautiful shot past Guaita to send the travelling support into delirium.
Odsonne Édouard then hit the underside of the crossbar, following good play from Jordan Ayew as the Eagles looked for a quick response. Benteke then forced Fabiański into action, as the Pole managed to fling a boot in the way of the Belgian’s effort.
The former Aston Villa striker wasn’t going to give up and he was denied again as the East Londoners kept their clean sheet intact.
The Hammers thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Milivojević handled the ball. Referee England initially waved the appeals away but was advised to go and check the incident on the pitchside monitor and for the second time in as many games, he changed his original verdict and the decision went in favour of the East Londoners.
With Noble omitted from the starting line-up for this game, Lanzini stepped-up and confidently thumped the ball into the net.
At half-time, the visitors were once again in complete control as they were against the Hornets and were looking for another three points to make it a good start to the New Year.
Moyes had to make a change during the break as Johnson was replaced by Arthur Masuaku.
The hosts continued to waste numerous chances in the second-half with West Ham still looking comfortable. Whilst they could have gone further ahead, the Irons seemed content with the three goals they had already scored.
They did have two good chances to extend their lead but Benrahma sent his shot wide of the post while Antonio tried an acrobatic attempt but was just wide of the target.
On seventy one minutes, West Ham made their second change with Nikola Vlašić taking the place of Benrahma.
The Eagles, who had only been beaten in front of their own fans once this campaign pulled a goal back on eighty three minutes, as Édouard finally found a way past Fabiański although it was through no fault of anyone in the Hammers’ team.
The Irons made a final change on eighty nine minutes. Noble was brought on, with Lanzini withdrawn.
Viera saw his side reduce the deficit again in second-half stoppage time as substitute Michael Olise, who had earlier been introduced for Benteke, netted with time running out.
Jean-Philippe Mateta entered the fray in place of Milivojević and he almost equalised in the closing stages but the visitors could breathe a sigh of relief when the Frenchman sent a speculative effort wide.
Despite a late comeback, it was too little too late for the hosts, meaning the Hammers were able to bring another three points back to Stratford.
Moyes’ men can now focus on starting another FA Cup run next Sunday with an all Premier League tie at home to Leeds United.