Anelka double and Berahino strike earn point
NICOLAS Anelka again came back to haunt West Ham as his first-ever Albion goals and a Saido Berahino strike saw them twice come from behind to earn a draw in a pulsating Upton Park encounter.
The Baggies fell behind to Joe Cole’s sixth-minute strike but fought back to snatch a half-time lead thanks to Anelka’s six-minute double at the end of the first half.
It is the fourth club the former France international has scored for against the Hammers.
But Sam Allardyce’s men responded with a quick-fire double of their own as Modibo Maiga’s 65th-minute effort and Kevin Nolan’s 67th-minute volley put them back in front.
The hosts’ lead lasted less than two minutes, though, as Berahino produced a moment of brilliance to equalise.
And the England Under-21 international almost stole all three points eight minutes from time as his free-kick struck the woodwork.
The Baggies are now unbeaten in three games under caretaker boss Keith Downing.
Keith Downing made six changes to his side as Anelka, Berahino, Youssouf Mulumbu, Chris Brunt, Billy Jones and Gareth McAuley were drafted in.
Sam Allardyce made two changes with Jussi Jaaskelainen and Razvan Rat brought into the Hammer’ starting XI.
Albion started brightly and created a good opportunity in the fourth minute as James Morrison exchanged passes with Jones before curling a cross to the back post for Brunt, who fired into the side-netting.
But just two minutes later, a punt up-field by Jaaskelainen was flicked on by Carlton Cole to Joe Cole, who played a one-two with Kevin Nolan before firing past Ben Foster and just inside the near post to open the scoring.
Allardyce was forced into a change on ten as James Tomkins limped off injured to be replaced by midfielder Guy Demel.
George McCartney shuffled across to centre-half and Rat moved to left-back.
Moments later, Jonas Olsson’s header from Brunt’s corner was easily dealt with by Jaaskelainen.
The Hammers quickly broke and when Carlton Cole pushed forward, he found Matt Jarvis in space and his shot rebounded to Nolan, who saw his 20-yard goalbound effort strike Liam Ridgewell.
The Baggies were also still probing and Berahino saw his shot deflect wide off Joey O’Brien in the 12th minute.
Carlton Cole beat Olsson in the air from Jarvis’ corner on 24 – but headed well over.
The hosts almost doubled their lead on the half-hour mark as Demel swivelled on Carlton Cole’s head down and hit the outside of the post from six yards.
Five minutes later, Noble curled a 25-yard free-kick just wide of the left-hand post.
Seven minutes before the break, Mulumbu slid Brunt in on goal but, rather than take on a right-footed shot, the Baggies captain chose to cut the ball back and McCartney intercepted the danger.
The visitors continued to press, though, and Brunt produced a delightful ball on 40 that put Anelka in behind Joey O’Brien and he coolly rolled the ball past Jaaskelainen for his first Albion goal.
Incredibly, in the first minute of stoppage time, Downing’s men pinched the lead.
Olsson’s header from Brunt’s corner was cleared off the goalline by Carlton Cole before Anelka reacted quickest to force the ball past Jaaskelainen to double his tally.
Allardyce made a change at half-time, with Maiga coming on for Carlton Cole.
Anelka almost completed a quickfire hat-trick three minutes into the second half as he connected with Jones’ cut-back – but saw Jaaskelainen hold his shot.
Morrison found Berahino in a good position in the box on 52 and he flashed a low left-footed shot inches past the far post from 15 yards.
At the other end, the hosts won a free-kick on the edge of the 'D' and Noble laid it off for Cole, who curled a shot just wide of the right-hand post.
Foster showed his England credentials on 63 as he flew to his right at full stretch to tip over Maiga’s fiercely-struck curler from the edge of the box.
But just two minutes later, Nolan found Maiga in a similar position and this time he went low with a shot that skipped up just in front of Foster and went past him for the equaliser.
And United turned the screw on 67 as Maiga headed Noble’s left-wing cross back into the danger-zone and Nolan reacted quickest to volley the ball in off the underside of the bar.
Downing made a change as Morgan Amalfitano came on for Diego Lugano on 68 and Albion switched to a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The hosts were ahead for only two minutes as Berahino produced a piece of magic on the left-hand side of the box to beat Demel before drilling a low left-foot shot in off the far post.
Brunt pipped Mohamed Diame to a loose ball in the box on 77 but saw his volley stopped comfortably by Jaaskelainen.
Downing made another change in the 78th minute as Claudio Yacob came on for Morrison.
Berahino almost grabbed the lead back for Albion on 82 as he agonisingly curled a 20-yard free-kick against the right-hand post.
It was the England international’s final action of the game as he made way for Stephane Sessegnon in the 85th minute.
Albion continued to push for a winner in the remainder of the game but did not get the rub of the green as they fired a series of balls into the box.
WEST HAM (4-4-1-1): Jaaskelainen; Diame, O’Brien, Tomkins (Demel 10), McCartney; Rat, Nolan, Noble, Jarvis; Joe Cole (Collision 83); Carlton Cole (Maiga HT). Subs not used: Adrian (gk), Taylor, Diarra, Chambers.
ALBION (5-3-1-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Lugano (Amalfitano 68), Ridgewell; Morrison (Yacob 78), Mulumbu, Brunt (c); Anelka; Berahino (Sessegnon 85). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Vydra, Dawson, Sinclair.
GOALS: WEST HAM – J Cole (6), Maiga (65), Nolan (67). ALBION – Anelka (40, 45+1), Berahino (69).
BOOKINGS: WEST HAM - C Cole (foul 44), Nolan (foul 57), Diame (foul 81). ALBION – Mulumbu (foul 48), Ridgewell (time-wasting 90).
REFEREE: M Dean (Wirral).
ALBION STARMAN: Chris Brunt.