LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - An injury-plagued West Ham United fought back to salvage a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace in a hard-fought Premier League encounter at the London Stadium on Tuesday.
With 10 first team players missing, including influential pair Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini, the situation looked grim for West Ham boss David Moyes when Palace took the lead through Belgian striker Christian Benteke in the 23rd minute.
Rising to meet Andros Townsend’s teasing cross, it was only Benteke’s second league goal of the season.
The hosts responded and were rewarded when referee Neil Swarbrick awarded them a penalty for a foul by former Hammers defender James Tomkins, with West Ham captain Mark Noble calmly dispatching the spot kick two minutes before halftime.
It was Noble’s 50th goal in a West Ham shirt.
Inspired by the tenacious tackling of Noble and makeshift midfielder Pablo Zabaleta, West Ham pushed for a winner after the break.
Five minutes after halftime, Javier Hernandez had a glorious chance to give West Ham the lead, only to see his point-blank header parried away by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Moyes said he was pleased with his side’s display and a particular bright spot was the performance of debutant midfielder Joao Mario, who joined West Ham on loan from Inter Milan last week.
“We were thinking (to take him off) after 60 or 70 minutes, but he didn’t look like he needed it,” said Moyes.
“He was like a diesel engine, looked as if he could get up and down no problem. He covered the ground easily and certainly played like a really good footballer tonight.”
The draw means West Ham go above Watford into 10th place, while Palace remain a point back in 12th.
Just eight points separate the bottom 12 clubs in the Premier League, meaning neither side is yet free of relegation danger.
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Toby Davis