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West Ham 2 Norwich City 2: Kouyate´s injury-time equaliser spares Bilic´s blushes

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 26 Sep 2015

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An injury-time equaliser from Cheikhou Kouyate spared West Ham another home defeat as they laboured to a 2-2 draw with Norwich City.

Slaven Bilic’s men have established themselves as the Premier League’s most accomplished away side in the early weeks of the new season, reeling off wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

But it has been a different story at Upton Park, and they were fortunate to escape with a point after a lacklustre display on Saturday.

Nathan Redmond appeared to have claimed all three points for Norwich with a superb goal seven minutes from time, but Kouyate was on hand to snatch a draw when he slammed home from close range after John Ruddy failed to deal with a deep free-kick from the right.

Robbie Brady had given Norwich an early lead with his first goal for the club, before Diafra Sakho equalised in the 33rd minute.

More dropped points at home mean West Ham missed the chance to move into second in the Premier League, while Norwich remain in mid-table. 

Alex Neil’s team were in the ascendancy from the off, with West Ham’s dreadful start to the game typified by captain Mark Noble gifting the ball to Brady in the ninth minute, allowing the Republic of Ireland international to run clear and slide his first goal for the club past Adrian.

That goal visibly boosted the visitors’ confidence, and they spurned two decent opportunities to double their lead before the 20-minute mark.

First, Steven Whittaker saw his shot blocked after he was left in far too much space down the right, before Jonny Howson blazed over the crossbar following another assured passing move.

But the hosts drew level against the run of play just after the half-hour mark, as Dimitri Payet crossed from the right and Sakho converted from eight yards.

Sakho’s leveller jolted West Ham into life, and Manuel Lanzini went close to turning the game on its head with an excellent curling free-kick that arced just wide of Ruddy’s right-hand post.

The second half began in frantic, end-to-end fashion, and Ruddy was forced into a fine save 11 minutes after the restart when Sakho powered a free header straight at him from Victor Moses’ cross.

Payet was next to test the Norwich keeper with a low left-footed effort, before Adrian denied Cameron Jerome at the other end following a swift Norwich breakaway. 

Neil introduced Redmond with 20 minutes to go and the England Under-21 international produced a moment of real quality to restore Norwich’s lead, as he cut inside from the left and fired past Adrian.

Norwich looked set for their first win at Upton Park in 26 years, but Kouyate had other ideas as West Ham snatched a point at the death. 

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