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Aston Villa 1 West Ham 1: Ayew cancels out Cresswell opener

Jordan Ayew’s impressive form in front of goal continued, but his efforts were only enough to earn Aston Villa a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham on Saturday.

The Ghana international converted a spot kick after Angelo Ogbonna brought down Rudy Gestede inside the area, although Aaron Cresswell had previously opened the scoring seconds before the half-time whistle.

Ayew has five goals in his last nine league games, and rescued a point with a stunning effort at Newcastle United last weekend, although draws are doing little to aid Villa’s plight.

Remi Garde remains without a win since replacing Tim Sherwood, who oversaw Villa’s only league win of the season at AFC Bournemouth on the opening day.

After an impressive start to the campaign, that featured wins at Arsenal and Manchester City, West Ham have not won in eight games, drawing their last five.

Villa dominated proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, with Gestede in particular looking dangerous, but the better chances were for West Ham and Cresswell broke the deadlock with a superb finish.

Gestede’s physical power caused the West Ham defence all kinds of trouble early on, the Benin striker heading Ayew’s cross just wide in the 17th minute, before seeing another header minutes later go over the crossbar via Ogbonna.  

The hosts could have gone a goal up at the half-hour mark when Adrian failed to hold on to Leandro Bacuna’s shot from the edge of the area, but the West Ham goalkeeper redeemed himself to gather Gestede’s header from the rebound. 

Cheikhou Kouyate hit the crossbar after Enner Valencia’s shot was deflected with half-time approaching, but West Ham still managed to snatch the lead before the interval. 

Michail Antonio set up Cresswell on the left-hand side of the pitch and the left-back took a touch to control the ball before firing a low shot past Guzan from the edge of the area, his third goal in 64 appearances for the Hammers.

Gestede should have levelled the scoring in the 50th minute after a fine cross from Alan Hutton from the right, but the striker aimed too high after escaping the attention of Carl Jenkinson.

Jordan Veretout was next to try his luck from a difficult angle just minutes later, yet Adrian showed his class with a sublime reflex stop.

Villa continued to dominate proceedings and Gestede looked dangerous once more with a good shot on the turn, only for Adrian to again deny the hosts.

Garde’s men eventually got the equaliser they more than deserved on the hour mark. Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot after Ogbonna brought down Gestede inside the area and Ayew coolly fired home from 12 yards.

Hutton came close to netting the winner after a dangerous free kick from Veretout, but James Collins did well to clear the ball off the goalline before it went in.

Villa’s precious point was at risk as they were fortunate not to concede a penalty in the dying seconds of the game when Ashley Westwood seemingly handled the ball inside his own area, but the referee waved play on, leaving the home fans to breathe a sight of relief.

Sat 26 Dec, 2015
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