LONDON: Haller earns West Ham draw with spectacular goal


LONDON, December 17 (Online): Sebastien Haller has often struggled to justify being West Ham United’s record signing but he produced a moment of dazzling quality to earn his side a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Christian Benteke had given Palace the lead in the first half with a powerful header, and was later sent off, but Haller lit up the London derby with a sublime 55th-minute bicycle kick.
Vladimir Coufal clipped a cross into the area and Haller, with his back to goal, launched himself into the air before hammering an acrobatic overhead kick past Vicente Guaita.
“Finally. I was a bit unlucky last week (against Leeds) so to score a goal like that is always good. Special,” Haller said.
“This season I’ve not played as much but I’ve scored more goals. I’m just happy today.”
The draw left West Ham in seventh place in the table with Palace in 12th spot.
Pablo Fornals wasted a good chance to put West Ham ahead early on but Palace looked dangerous with Benteke causing the home defence problems with his aerial ability.
In the 34th minute a well-worked Palace move down the right ended with Joel Ward whipping in a cross and Benteke lost his marker before powering a header past Lukasz Fabianski.
Guaita saved well from Jarrod Bowen as West Ham responded but Benteke should have made it 2-0 from Andros Townsend’s low ball into the area but his casual flick was saved by Fabianski.
Fifteen minutes after Haller’s spectacular intervention, Benteke blotted his copybook as he challenged for a high ball and caught Tomas Soucek with his arm.
There was nothing malicious about it but referee David Coote decided it was worthy of a yellow card, Benteke’s second of the game. West Ham looked favourites to take the three points at that stage but apart from one effort by Declan Rice the hosts could not make their numerical advantage count.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson said he was happy with his team’s display but mystified by Benteke’s dismissal.
“A good result for us because we had to play 30 minutes with 10 men — I couldn’t understand the sending off,” he said.
“That type of challenge will always happen in football.”
Benteke will now miss Palace’s next match against his former club Liverpool.