Arnautovic double rescues point for West Ham against Brighton
Chris Hughton’s side had surged into a two-goal lead.
Marko Arnautovic’s quickfire double rescued West Ham from another defeat by bogey side Brighton.
The Hammers were staring at a fourth loss in four meetings with Brighton since they were promoted after goals from Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy put the visitors in charge.
But two goals in two minutes from Austrian forward Arnautovic lifted the hoodoo as West Ham snatched a 2-2 draw.
All the goals came in the space of 12 second-half minutes of a contest which came to life after Brighton struck from two corners.
The drama was in stark contrast to a listless first half which had seen Andy Carroll handed his first start for precisely one year.
The big striker put himself about as usual and was in the wars after 20 minutes, requiring treatment for a cut head after a clash with Lewis Dunk, before he was withdrawn at half-time.
Dunk was involved in the key moment of an otherwise insipid opening period, the Brighton skipper rolled in the area by Arnautovic who then went down under his challenge.
With Dunk almost hitching a lift on his back Arnautovic, understandably, felt he was fouled but referee Christopher Kavanagh gave nothing.
Felipe Anderson should have added to his tally of seven goals in his last 10 matches but the Brazilian prodded straight at keeper David Button from 12 yards.
Anderson was inches from opening the scoring at the start of the second half with a dazzling run and low shot which flew just wide.
But it was Brighton who made the breakthrough in the 56th minute, when Fabianski punched a corner straight to the lurking Stephens who smashed the ball back through a mass of bodies and into the net.
Two minutes later Duffy doubled the lead, pouncing at the far post as West Ham’s static defence waved another Pascal Gross corner through.
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini threw on Mark Noble and Michail Antonio, meaning new signing Samir Nasri would not be leaving the bench for his debut.
The changes had an immidiate effect as Arnautovic pulled one back when he latched onto Noble’s ball over the top, held off Duffy and expertly finished past Button.
Moments later Antonio reached the byline, just managing to keep the ball in play, before pulling it back for Arnautovic to smash home off the underside of the crossbar.
Antonio, by now causing havoc down Brighton’s left, could have put West Ham ahead when he skipped in between two defenders but blazed his shot wide.
Declan Rice, yet to open his account for the Hammers, then hit the sidenetting as Brighton, in total control just 25 minutes earlier, found themselves gratefully clinging on for a point.