Jan 2 (Reuters) - WEST HAM UNITED 2 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 2
Marko Arnautovic scored twice in the space of two minutes as West Ham United salvaged a 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday after conceding two quickfire second half goals.
After a dull first half at the London Stadium, with striker Andy Carroll making his first Premier League start in a year before being replaced at the interval, the game burst into life with four goals in 11 minutes.
Brighton took the lead in the 57th minute against the run of play when goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski punched out a corner shot as far as Dale Stephens, who volleyed the ball home from the edge of the area.
The visitors made it 2-0 in the 59th through Shane Duffy, again off a corner kick, who flicked the ball in from a tight angle at the back post.
If West Ham looked to have crumbled, Arnautovic had other thoughts with his sixth and seventh league goals of the season.
The Austrian pulled one back from close range in the 66th and equalised in the 68th when substitute Michail Antonio crossed from the right — with the ball almost off the pitch — for him to fire home.
“I’m absolutely frustrated,” West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC.
“The most important way that Brighton scores is from set pieces, they had seven goals from corners. And we allowed them to score two goals this way.
“I don’t remember any other chances for them, but we didn’t create in the first 45 minutes.”
Carroll looked rusty and needed treatment after a blow to the face on 22 minutes, coming back to see out the half but then making way for Lucas Perez who worked well with Arnautovic in a rejigged formation.
West Ham, moving up to 10th in the standings with 28 points from 21 matches, also had a first half penalty appeal rejected when Arnautovic went down under tight marking from Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.
Brighton, who have taken five points from their last three Premier League games and are mainly focused on staying up, are 13th on 26 points and 10 clear of the relegation zone.
“At the moment it’s a feeling of disappointment because of having been 2-0 up,” said Brighton manager Chris Hughton.
“I think our level of performance has improved away from home... arguably last season, I know we did well here but we wouldn’t have been able to have the good control of the game that we did today.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar