Two goals in 13 minutes allowed West Ham to draw 2-2 at Stoke City and continue their good start to the season.
Sam Allardyce's men arrived at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday fourth in the Barclays Premier League having won each of their previous three matches, including a victory against champions Manchester City last weekend. But the east London club looked a shadow of that side without the injured Diafra Sakho and Victor Moses's first Barclays Premier League goal in 14 months gave Mark Hughes's side a deserved first-half lead before Mame Biram Diouf added a second after the break.
Enner Valencia pulled one back on the hour before setting up Stewart Downing's equaliser in the 73rd minute after Diouf had missed a great chance to seal the points for Stoke. This sparked a frantic finale as both sides pushed for a winner, but neither could find the decisive touch.
Sakho's absence may have hampered West Ham, but the hosts also started the match without their chief attacking threat as Peter Crouch served a suspension, along with defender Phil Bardsley. But Stoke's replacements combined to create the first opening on 10 minutes. Geoff Cameron was allowed to burst forward from right-back many times in the opening exchanges and almost made West Ham pay when he teed up Bojan 15 yards from goal. However, Bojan’s shot was blocked bravely by James Collins.
Bojan drew confidence from his early opportunity and delivered a dangerous low cross from the right in the 22nd minute after evading Morgan Amalfitano. But the cross escaped the toe of a lunging Diouf. Stoke were on top and gained the lead their dominance deserved in the 33rd minute.
Moses forced the ball over the line from close range as it fell at his feet via Bojan and Diouf, after Carl Jenkinson had failed to clear Cameron's cross. Diouf could have doubled the advantage in first-half stoppage time, but was denied by a fantastic save by Adrian, after West Ham again failed to cope with a ball into the box from Cameron.
There was nothing Adrian could do to prevent Diouf from doubling Stoke's lead 11 minutes into the second half. Aaron Cresswell was outmuscled on the right by Jonathan Walters, who crossed for Diouf to head in from three yards. The game looked to be getting away from the visitors until Alex Song won the ball with a robust challenge in midfield, releasing Downing. The winger's curling right-wing cross was headed in at the back post by Valencia to give West Ham hope with 30 minutes to play.
Diouf had a chance to put the game beyond the visitors 10 minutes later as he met Erik Pieters's whipped free-kick, but he could not direct his effort on target.
Diouf was made to rue that missed opportunity as Downing and Valencia combined again to level. This time the Ecuadorian supplied the cross from the byline and Downing arrived in the box to smash home with his right foot.
West Ham's defence came under greater pressure in the closing stages as Stoke put in aerial balls into the box, but Adrian was not unduly tested and hung on for a point.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "I think everybody at the game knows who were the better side, and who created the most chances. Unfortunately, sport doesn't always give the spoils to the team who deserve it."
“We should be celebrating, because our performance deserved maximum points."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "When you're 2-0 down away from home anywhere in the Premier League, getting anything is a terrific comeback. For us, that's what it had to be.
"It wasn't that we weren't trying, but we couldn't get our passing game going - partly because of the conditions, and partly because Stoke were doing a good job on us.
"I always thought there was a goal in us. We changed the shape of the team and went for it, knowing we'd either lose 3-0 or get it back to 2-1, at which point Stoke might get nervous.
"Stewart Downing scored with his right foot. People think he's all left foot, and he isn't. We moved him into the middle from the wing, and he made a terrific difference."
|22 Nov 2014||v Burnley (H)|
|09 Nov 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|02 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|13 Dec 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|