Premier League: Villa edge Palace; West Ham roll Bournemouth
Joleon Lescott's header just before the hour gave Aston Villa boss Remi Garde his first victory since taking charge of the Premier League's relegation favorites, a 1-0 triumph over Crystal Palace that ended a 19-match league winless streak even if it did not lift the winners off the bottom of the table.
Villa had not won since opening day and Garde had been in charge for more than two months before the ray of sunshine appeared Tuesday night. The club's situation at the foot of the table still looks dire as they remained eight points adrift of the safety zone and 17th place Swansea.
Tuesday's win was both welcome and deserved even if it came against recent form. Villa's previous outing had been a disappointing FA Cup draw, where the Premier Leaguers were often outplayed by League Two Wycombe Wanderers.
Reacting to that display, Garde made six changes, dropping defender Micah Richards but staying with with Mark Bunn in goal ahead of American Brad Guzan. Bunn was getting his first Premier League start in more than two years and the men in front of him put on a fighting display after an opening minute that almost cost them dearly.
Crystal Palace, which could have gone as high as fifth in the table with the right combination of midweek results and has been one of the surprises of the Barclays League season, turned in a below-level performance, unable to get into an attacking rhythm and letting the home side have too much of the ball.
They did not really turn up thre pressure until Lescott put them behind and while that made for a nervy last quarter-hour for the Villa faithful, on this night there was no late Palace strike.
The fact that Palace should have been ahead almost directly from the kickoff may have deceived them into thinking the night would be easy and once that chance went begging they were not able to impose themselves on the match. The way keeper Wayne Hennessey conceded the goal will have given manager Alan Pardew a long, unhappy ride back to London.
Villa escaped a disastrous start just 45 seconds into the match when Wilfried Zaha got wide open down the left flank only to see his shot hit the far right post and stay out with the home defense absolutely carved apart.
Jordan Ayew had Villa's first good look but he hit the near right side netting with his 25th minute shot while Damien Delaney nearly put Palace ahead a minute later when he met a Yohan Cabaye free kick in the box but saw his attempt go past the left post with Bunn completely beaten. Other than those moments the opening half was largely uneventful and scoreless.
Libor Kozak forced Hennessey to save well in the 51st minute but Villa wasted a pair of corners that resulted from that attack. Aly Cissokho, however, was doing his best to make something happen and that work finally paid off after he had a hard drive blocked in the 58th minute.
From the resulting Jordan Veretout corner Lescott's header down struck Hennessey in the leg, then trickled through him and over the line. It was a soft goal but nobody in Villa Park was about to complain in a season when little has gone right.
BOURNEMOUTH 1, WEST HAM 3
(PA Sport) -- West Ham scored three goals in 17 second-half minutes to secure a fine comeback victory at Bournemouth in the Barclays Premier League on Tuesday night.
The Cherries appeared on course for victory after Harry Arter opened the scoring with 17 minutes gone on the south coast.
But Dimtri Payet hauled the visitors level with a magnificent free-kick shortly after the hour mark, before Enner Valencia netted twice to see West Ham triumph 3-1 - their third consecutive league victory.
Benik Afobe, the £10million signing from Wolves, was Eddie Howe's only change from his side's 0-0 draw at Leicester, with fellow new arrivals Lewis Grabban and Juan Iturbe were on the bench.
Payet made his first start for the Hammers in over three months, while Pedro Obiang kept his place in the visitors' starting XI following their 1-0 victory against Wolves in the FA Cup.
In Bournemouth's first Premier League game under the lights, it was West Ham who enjoyed the best of a scrappy opening.
Mark Noble blazed his effort over after a sloppy header from Simon Francis, before the Bournemouth defender made amends with a good clearance underneath his own bar following fine work from Andy Carroll on the right.
It was to be the injury-prone forward's last contribution. The 27-year-old, making only his seventh league start of the season, was left on the floor holding his left leg after just 12 minutes and moments later was hobbling down the tunnel shaking his head with his match over.
How long he will be sidelined for this time remains a mystery, but West Ham boss Slaven Bilic soon had more pressing matters when Bournemouth took the lead after 17 minutes.
Arter let fly from 20 yards and goalkeeper Adrian, diving low to his right, could only palm the ball into his own net.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was celebrating his first Premier League goal and suddenly the momentum was with Bournemouth.
Afobe, who scored 23 goals in 48 games for Wolves, headed over the bar from six yards, before Charlie Daniels' fizzing effort was palmed away by Adrian.
Afobe then found himself with only Adrian to beat after a fine through-ball from Junior Stanislas, but the former Arsenal striker fluffed his lines and a grateful Adrian collected the ball.
On the stroke of half-time Artur Boruc was at full stretch to tip Payet's shot over the bar to ensure the Cherries headed into the interval with the advantage in what was the visiting side's first real effort on goal.
After the break, Bournemouth seemed content to sit back and it was West Ham who enjoyed more of the ball, but without the goal threat of Carroll failed to test Boruc.
That was until Payet's moment of magic shortly after the hour mark. His curling free-kick left Boruc with no chance and his effort crashed in on the underside of the bar.
West Ham were buoyant and they took the lead seven minutes later after the brilliant Payet teed up Valencia, who could not miss from eight yards.
Bournemouth were left stunned and they failed to muster a clear chance in the remaining 16 minutes. Indeed it was Valencia who put the icing on the West Ham cake, with the second brilliant free-kick of a fine night for Bilic's men.