MX23RW : Friday, January 18 08:21:01

Manuel Pellegrini relieved to battle back for a point against Brighton

Manuel Pellegrini relieved to battle back for a point against Brighton
© Reuters
Marko Arnautovic's brace helped the Hammers recover from 2-0 down.

Manuel Pellegrini was unhappy with West Ham's defending but relieved to escape with a Premier League point against bogey side Brighton.

The Hammers were staring at a fourth loss in four meetings with Brighton since they were promoted after goals from Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy, both from corners, put the visitors in charge.

But two goals in two minutes from Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic, set up by substitutes Mark Noble and Michail Antonio, lifted the hoodoo as West Ham snatched a 2-2 draw.

Hammers boss Pellegrini said: "We know Brighton score most of their goals from set pieces, especially corners, so to concede two goals knowing the characteristic of this team, I was very disappointed.

"I don't remember one chance for Brighton except the two set pieces.

"But fortunately we never gave up and the substitutes changed the face of the game. I'm disappointed about the result but very happy with the spirit of the team. Before the game I didn't want to draw but I think we must be happy."

All the goals came in the space of 12 dramatic second-half minutes, in stark contrast to a listless first half notable only for Andy Carroll's first start for precisely one year.

Carroll had already gone off when Brighton made the breakthrough in the 56th minute. Lukasz Fabianski punched a corner straight to the lurking Stephens who smashed the ball back through a mass of bodies and into the net.

Two minutes later Duffy doubled the lead, pouncing at the far post as West Ham's static defence waved another Pascal Gross corner through.

Pellegrini made the double substitution and the changes had an immediate effect as Arnautovic pulled one back when he latched onto Noble's ball over the top, held off Duffy and expertly finished past David Button.

Moments later Antonio reached the byline, just managing to keep the ball in play, before pulling it back for Arnautovic to smash home off the underside of the crossbar to rescue a point.

"Marko is coming back from an injury and he's full of energy," added Pellegrini.

"Most of the players have played eight games since the beginning of December. Five victories, one draw and two defeats is not bad."

Brighton had to settle for a point to add to the four they gained over Christmas against Everton and Arsenal.

"It's hugely disappointing, there won't be too many opportunities like that away from home," said manager Chris Hughton.

"The first-half performance from us was very good, so at the moment the overriding feeling is disappointment.

"Five points from nine is a good points tally from us and we know we mustn't get complacent."


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Brighton manager Chris Hughton pictured on December 29, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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