LONDON (Reuters) - West Ham United slipped into the Premier League relegation zone after giving up a two-goal lead as they were held 3-3 at home by fellow strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
A vital three points slipped out of the hands of David Moyes’s side who are now in 18th place on 24 points, a point and place behind Aston Villa after picking up just one win in their last six league outings.
Robert Snodgrass had inspired West Ham to a 3-1 lead with two goals and an assist but some poor defending allowed Brighton, who had lost their last three away games, to leave the London stadium with a point in their battle to avoid the drop.
“We’re all gutted as we’ve given away two points. We had the game in a good place when we were winning,” said Moyes, who suggested tiredness was a factor after they lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool on Wednesday but he was still upset with his side.
“I’m angry and I’ve told them. Their effort today was humongous. I just feel Wednesday night played a part in the second half,” he said.
Issa Diop put West Ham ahead on the half hour, sliding in to poke home a Snodgrass free kick whipped in from the left.
Scotland international Snodgrass then doubled the advantage on the stroke of halftime, latching on to a Brighton clearance and blasting home from the edge of the box.
Brighton got back in the game in fortunate fashion when West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski’s attempted punch clear struck the back of his team mate Angelo Ogbonna and flew into the net.
But the Hammers looked to have made sure of the points with another Snodgrass thunderbolt, this time from outside the box as he superbly volleyed a clearance into the top corner to make it 3-1.
A defensive mix-up between Ogbonna and Diop allowed Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross to break free and score to reduce West Ham’s lead to a single goal.
Veteran Brighton striker Glenn Murray then grabbed the equaliser in the 79th minute from close range and although there was a suspicion of handball before the 36-year-old slotted home, VAR allowed the goal to stand.
Brighton looked the more likely to win the game and West Ham needed a superb save from Fabianski to deny Solly March near the end.
The 36-year-old Murray, given a rare start, said he was relieved by the VAR decision to let his goal stand.
“You’re scared to celebrate goals these days. I knew deep down that I didn’t touch it but the doubt sets in, and thankfully they made the right decision,” he said.
“Things haven’t been going our way for a while now but it’s one of those moments where you think it could be pivotal. A big point.
“This gives us a boost. We’ve gone through a little bit of a sticky patch but I feel this afternoon as if we’ve stepped away from that and restored a bit of confidence in ourselves.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris