Football: West Ham Stay In Drop Zone As Everton Take A Point

29 Dec

LONDON – West Ham missed a chance to climb out of the relegation zone as Everton fought back to earn a 1-1 draw at Upton Park on Tuesday.

Avram Grant's side could have ended 2010 outside the bottom three with a victory and the Hammers were on course when an own goal from Everton defender Tony Hibbert gave them a first half lead.

But Seamus Coleman equalised for Everton just before half-time and the east London outfit remain second bottom of the Premier League going into the new year.

After ending their 27-game wait for an away win in the league with a 3-1 triumph at Fulham on Sunday, West Ham were looking for back-to-back top-flight victories for the first time this season.

Everton's Sylvain Distin threatened early on when he got in behind the Hammers defence but his touch took him too wide to keep his shot on target.

That narrow escape drew an immediate response from West Ham and they took the lead with a stroke of luck in the 16th minute.

When Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard parried a James Tomkins header to Radoslav Kovac, the Czech midfielder's overhead kick looked harmless but it took a huge deflection off Hibbert and flashed into the net.

Matthew Upson headed over from Victor Obinna's free-kick as West Ham pressed for a second.

But Everton equalised three minutes before half-time when Coleman made a perfectly-timed run to sidefoot in Tim Cahill's cross at the far post.

West Ham tried to regain the initiative but Upson headed off target from a corner and Scott Parker lofted a chip just over.

South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar almost put Everton ahead when he curled narrowly over early in the second half.

But neither side were able to impose themselves and Grant sent on Carlton Cole, who scored twice in the win at Fulham, in place of Frederic Piquionne in the 56th minute.

The move almost paid immediate dividends. Obinna's pass sent Freddie Sears clear on the break and the winger's cross found Cole, but the England striker completely miscued his finish.

Everton had two chances in quick succession when Cahill steered Pienaar's cutback straight at Robert Green before the West Ham goalkeeper pushed away Marouane Fellaini's header from the resulting corner.

Cahill – who is set to leave for the Asian Cup in January – did put the ball in the net moments later but the Australian was well offside and that was the final chance for either side.

– AFP /ls

Channel News Asia

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