West Ham and West Brom share the spoils
Both clubs will have reasons to be upset at having to go home with just a point apiece
Nicolas Anelka of West Brom scores their first goal past Jussi Jaaskelainen. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
West Ham 3 West Brom 3: Three goals in four second-half minutes meant Premier League strugglers West Ham and West Brom had to settle for a share of the spoils from a 3-3 draw at Upton Park.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce had labelled the game a ‘must win’ for his side, who remain 19th in the table and without a league victory in December.
Anelka, who was Allardyce’s talisman during his latter days as Bolton boss, had not featured for the Baggies in over two months but was named as one of six changes to Keith Downing’s starting line-up from the Boxing Day draw at Tottenham.
Downing’s side did not let their heads drop and were back in the game almost instantly with a very smart finish from Saido Berahino.
The two sides met less than 48 hours after both had been involved in tough Boxing Day fixtures and, with neither side in any sort of form, a draw was arguably the most likely outcome.
West Brom captain Chris Brunt had a great chance to open the scoring after just four minutes as he arrived unmarked at the back post but could only fire James Morrison’s cross in to the side netting.
Cole went one better moments later as Jussi Jaaskelainen’s goal kick found it’s way to the midfielder courtesy of Carlton Cole and Nolan, with the former Liverpool man finishing low under Ben Foster for his third goal of the campaign.
Allardyce has been struggling with injuries to his defensive line in recent weeks and he lost James Tomkins to what looked like a groin problem with only 10 minutes on the clock.
Guy Demel replaced Tomkins in a Hammers back four which no longer contained any recognised central defenders.
The Hammers may have had less penetration in the first half but they created much more as an attacking force, Carlton Cole was proving a constant threat and Demel clipped a post from close range at the end of a flowing move before West Brom made their own pressure count.
Brunt poked a perfectly-weighted through pass in to the path of Anelka, who timed his run well before side-footing the ball past the on-rushing Jaaskelainen to level proceedings and become the eighth player to score for six different Premier League clubs.