CRYSTAL Palace were downed by West Ham United this afternoon at Selhurst Park, thanks to strikes from Mauro Zarate, Stewart Downing and Carlton Cole. It was a disappointing afternoon in south London as Palace, looking to shrug off their off-the-field problems in the last nine days, were soundly beaten by Sam Allardyce's outfit. Despite a bright start from Palace, the Hammers broke the deadlock thanks to Zarate's brilliant volley, before Downing curled past Julian Speroni in the first half. The Eagles hit back within two minutes of the restart when Marouane Chamakh blasted home, but the visitors were home and dry following Cole's close-range finish. Keith Millen's men suffered a blow before kick-off as Joe Ledley injured himself in the warm-up and was replaced by Stuart O'Keefe in the starting line-up. The Eagles had a great chance to opening the scoring early on when Martin Kelly did well on the right side of the box and fizzed a ball to the back post, where Marouane Chamakh was denied by Joey O'Brien. Fraizer Campbell had a header easily gathered by Hammers custodian Adrian moments later as the hosts cranked up their early pressure. Mile Jedinak should have put Palace ahead when Chamakh chested the ball down beautifully into his path on the edge of the box, but the skipper scuffed his effort. The visitors had their first real opportunity midway through the half – and they should have scored – when Stewart Downing's cross to the back post found Carlton Cole, whose header back found Aaron Cresswell, and the left-back's shot took a deflection for a corner. Palace had taken their foot off the gas and allowed West Ham to get a grip on proceedings, which was evident in the 33rd-minute as Sam Allardyce's side drew first blood thanks to a stunning strike from Mauro Zarate. The attacking midfielder watched the ball all the way on the volley after an initial strike on goal was blocked by Campbell, before dispatching past Speroni into the bottom corner. And it got worse for the Eagles two minutes later as Downing doubled West Ham's lead, curling home beyond Speroni after cutting in from the right. The Hammers very nearly made it number three a minute into the second half as James Tomkins rose to plant a header off the underside of the crossbar before Speroni denied a potential follow-up. However, moments later and Palace were back in the game thanks to a brilliant striker from Chamakh. Picking up the ball 25 yards from goal, the Moroccan drove a low shot into the bottom corner to beat Adrian and get Selhurst Park rocking. They upped the ante when Barry Bannan took aim from outside the box but Adrian managed to just get enough behind it to save. And despite their improvement, West Ham regained their two-goal cushion just after the hour-mark when Cole lashed home. Dwight Gayle and Jonny Williams were sent on for Campbell and Bannan on 70 minutes as Millen looked to freshen up Palace's attack. But the Hammers we comfortable and nearly grabbed a fourth when Cheikou Kouyate was a whisker away at the near post from a corner. Palace huffed and puffed in search of an unlikely second, before Glenn Murray came on as a last throw of the dice, in place of O'Keefe. West Ham wound down the clock with ease, though, and despite a couple of late chances from Murray and Williams, it just wasn't to be their day in this London derbu. Millen's chance of landing the managerial post may have gone, and it seems Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has a busy few days ahead of him. Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Ward, Hangeland, Delaney, Jedinak ©, O'Keefe (Murray 83), Bannan (Williams 71), Bolasie, Chamakh, Campbell (Gayle 70). Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Mariappa, McCarthy, Guedioura. West Ham: Adrian, Reid, Cresswell, Tomkins, O'Brien, Kouyate, Zarate (Poyet 83), Downing (Diame 90), Noble ©, Vaz Te, Cole (Sakho 68). Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Morrison, Demel, Valencia. Attendance: 24,242 Referee: Mark Clattenburg
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