Mauro Zarate scored on his debut as West Ham United secured a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The impressive Zarate was brought into the starting line-up in the absence of injured captain Kevin Nolan and made the most of his opportunity by firing Sam Allardyce's side in front with a sublime volley in an eye-catching display.
Stewart Downing then produced another fine finish two minutes later to put the visitors in command at half-time in Saturday's London derby and Carlton Cole made sure with a third goal after Marouane Chamakh had given Palace hope by pulling a goal back against one of his former clubs.
Palace, with Keith Millen in temporary charge for a second successive match after Tony Pulis left his position as manager by mutual consent, suffered a blow when they lost Joe Ledley to injury in the warm-up, with Stuart O’Keefe replacing him.
But they created the first attack of note when Martin Kelly surged into the penalty area and fired over a cross that drew a fine defensive header from Joey O'Brien to thwart the home side.
Zarate was escaped punishment for a late challenge on O'Keefe and the Argentine playmaker was then involved in a move which ended with Aaron Cresswell's tame shot being deflected for a corner.
The former Lazio man was causing Palace problems in behind Cole and put the visitors in front with a moment of class 34 minutes in.
Stand-in skipper Mark Noble's shot was blocked and the ball looped into the path of Zarate, who beat Julian Speroni with a stunning right-footed volley from 20 yards out.
West Ham doubled their advantage two minutes later when Downing picked up the ball wide on the right and cut in unchallenged before bending a measured finish into the far corner from just outside the penalty area to stun the home supporters.
Tomkins should have added a third goal when he rose to meet Downing's corner and headed against the crossbar just after the break.
And West Ham nerves were sent jangling when Chamakh found space 20 yards from goal before driving a right-footed strike just inside Adrian's right post to give Palace a lifeline.
The home side looked vulnerable at the back, though, and were made to pay for some poor defending after 62 minutes as they failed to deal with a free-kick looped into the penalty area and Cole was on hand to finish clinically.
Adrian denied substitute Glenn Murray in stoppage time after some great footwork in the box, but West Ham comfortably saw out a deserved victory at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace caretaker manager Keith Millen: “Our first half performance was lacklustre. We weren’t at the races and that’s not like us, but maybe there are reasons – it’s been a tough week for everyone.
“Losing Joe Ledley in the warm-up obviously was another blow to us. I don’t like to use excuses as the man in charge, but you could say that the players have got reasons to be a little bit down.
“But again the response was good. We got into them at half time after conceding two goals within three or four minutes, which is tough and knocks the stuffing out of you.
“I said to them that the next goal would be vital and we got that with a great finish from Chamakh. At 2-1, it’s game on and all of a sudden we had a little bit more energy about us, the fans were behind us and unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot with the third goal we conceded from a set-piece.”
“I felt today that when we did break through the lines and get balls in the box, we actually created chances. But we seemed to be forever chasing the game and we know at this level from last year that at 2-1, certainly 3-1, it’s really game over.
“We’re disappointed with the manner of the first half performance. I was pleased with the way they responded, but then we killed ourselves with the third goal.
“West Ham were clinical with their chances, but I think we helped them along the way.”
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "We got everything right today. We could have scored more than we did. We had a plan of attack to break Crystal Palace down with a patient approach.
"I think, in particular Mauro [Zarate] showed he could find the spaces and create some good opportunities. Getting us off to a goal start was important at that stage because we were in control."
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|13 Sep 2014||v Burnley (H)|
|21 Sep 2014||v Everton (A)|
|27 Sep 2014||v Leicester (H)|
|04 Oct 2014||v Hull (A)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Chelsea (H)|