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Report: Magic Murray seals point in stirring Albion fightback

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Glenn Murray enjoyed a joyous return to the side with the equaliser, as gutsy Albion came from 3-1 down with 15 minutes left to pick up a point at the London Stadium.

By Bruce Talbot • 01 February 2020

By Bennett Dean
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring Albion's equaliser.
  • Glenn Murray scores on his return to the side as Albion share six goals at the London Stadium
  • Striker caps brave Albion fightback from 3-1 down with 78th-minute equaliser
  • Own goal and Pascal Gross effort in the second half earn Albion deserved reward
  • Seagulls 16th in the table and face Watford at the Amex next Saturday

The Seagulls found themselves 3-1 down and could have had every justification for feeling hard done by with both Robert Snodgrass’s goals beating Maty Ryan thanks to generous deflections.

Trailing 2-0 at the break, Albion had got lucky themselves when Angelo Ogbonna scored an own goal early in the second half, and there was a lot to admire about their determination in the closing stages when the hosts seemed to have the game under control.

Pascal Gross beat Fabianski to a loose ball to make it 3-2, then Murray had his moment, when he turned to fire in a cross before enjoying the adulation of 3,000 delirious Albion fans – who celebrated again a couple of minutes later after a VAR check ruled that Murray had used his chest to control the ball and not his hand.

Albion might have snatched all three points had it not been for a fabulous Fabianski save in stoppage time, but those last 20 minutes or so could prove pivotal in the battle to stay out of trouble at the bottom of the table.

By Paul Hazlewood
Davy Propper plays a pass on Saturday.

Graham Potter had made three changes, with Murray making his first league start since the 1-1 draw against Burnley in September. Leandro Trossard and Martin Montoya also returned with Neal Maupay, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Steven Alzate dropping to the bench.

Albion had a great chance to take the lead inside two minutes. Montoya overlapped down the right and his cross picked out Aaron Mooy, but the midfielder’s diving header went the wrong side of the post with Lukasz Fabianski beaten.

West Ham responded and debutant Tomas Soucek was denied by Ryan in the sixth minute when the keeper stretched to push away his header.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pascal Gross scored Albion's second goal.

 

Albion continued to threaten though. Trossard was put through by Davy Propper’s through ball but scuffed his shot from a great position and Fabianski was able to save easily. Then Murray stretched to meet Gross’s header but couldn’t keep it on target.

So far so good from an Albion perspective, but then Snodgrass took a hand in matters. On 31 minutes his excellent delivery from wide on the left found Diop, who timed his run perfectly and stabbed the free kick past Ryan.

Michail Antonio tested Ryan with two efforts before the Hammers struck again on the stroke of half-time. Montoya’s defensive header dropped nicely to Snodgrass, whose volley would have been saved by Ryan had it not taken a decisive deflection off Adam Webster and into the net.

A mountain to climb for Albion, but they had a goal back two minutes into the second half. Fabianski tried to punch Gross’s in-swinging corner clear, but the ball went in off Ogbonna’s back as he took evasive action for an own goal.

But it seemed to be Snodgrass’s day and when Albion failed to clear a 56th-minute corner, it fell to the midfielder on the edge of the box and yet another volley beat Ryan with the aid of a deflection, this time off Bernardo. 

By Bennett Dean
Glenn Murray fired in Albion's equaliser.

Albion made a double change with 19 minutes to go as Solly March and Ezequiel Schelotto replaced Mooy and Montoya, and March nearly made an immediate impression when he chested down the loose ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a low drive, which Fabianski pushed out to Propper, who skied his effort over the bar.

Then on 75 minutes Albion were given a lifeline. Ogbonna tried to cushion a header back to his keeper and Gross intercepted the ball and dinked it over Fabianski, who would have been sent off for fouling the German had the ball not rolled into an empty net for 3-2 and his second goal of the season.

Game on and three minutes later it was 3-3. West Ham failed to clear Propper’s cross and Murray controlled it, before swivelling to fire low past Fabianski. After a lengthy VAR check for possible handball, the goal stood. Not that anyone in the London Stadium should have been that surprised. It was the striker’s fifth goal in six games against the Hammers.

Now the momentum was all with Albion. Gross played Trossard in on the left and the Belgian’s shot hit the side netting, before Fabianski stretched to turn over March’s free kick, which was arrowing towards the top corner. The substitute had another opportunity deep into stoppage time, but couldn’t keep his header at full stretch on target. A point it was, but the circumstances will give them a lot of heart with Watford due at the Amex next Saturday for another big game.

ALBION: Ryan, Montoya (Schelotto 71), Dunk, Webster, Bernardo, Trossard, Mooy (March 71), Stephens, Gross, Propper, Murray.

SUBS NOT USED: Button, Maupay, Jahanbakhsh, Connolly, Alzate.

ATTENDANCE: 59,952

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