Aston Villa rallied from behind to clinch a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Villa Park on Boxing Day.
- Aston Villa 1 West Ham 1
- Villa lose Sanchez to injury
- Cresswell fires Hammers in front
- Ayew puts Villans back on level terms
The first half was a closely contested affair and looked to be heading for a goalless draw before Aaron Cresswell struck home in the dying moments.
The Villans laid siege to the Hammers defence in the second stanza and eventually drew level in the 62nd minute, Jordan Ayew converting from the penalty spot after a foul on Rudy Gestede in the danger area.
However, neither side was able to push on and grab a second goal in the remaining minutes as the two sides were forced to settle for a point apiece.
The Hammers made their intentions known early on as Cheikhou Kouyaté headed wide of the left-hand post in the fourth minute, but they were unable to push on and create more chances as the Villans gained control of proceedings.
Aston Villa eventually lodged their first effort on goal in the 18th minute, but Rudy Gestede was unable to direct his headed effort on target.
Mauro Zárate had a glorious opportunity to put West Ham ahead in the 25th minute after latching on to a deft pass from Enner Valencia, but saw his goal-bound effort saved by Brad Guzan in the bottom corner.
Villa hit back with two quick-fire chances a few minutes later but Adrian was alert to the danger on both occasions, first denying Leandro Bacuna before saving Gestede's effort on the follow-up.
There were some worried faces on the Villa bench in the 38th minute as Carlos Sánchez had to be substituted after picking up an injury, with Carles Gil coming on in his place.
The hosts renewed their efforts in the latter stages of the half, but Ayew was denied by Adrian before Gil lashed a left-footed shot just wide of the left-hand upright.
Just when it seemed that the half would end in stalemate, Cresswell popped up with a powerful effort from outside the box that arrowed into the bottom-right corner in the second minute of injury time.
The Villans produced a much-improved performance after the break, however, putting West Ham under some intense pressure as they went in search of the equaliser.
Gestede and Jordan Veretout saw their efforts kept out by Adrian, while Ashley Westwood fired over in the 55th minute.
The sustained period of pressure finally took its toll on the Hammer's defence in the 61st minute when Angelo Ogbonna was adjudged to have fouled Gestede in the penalty area. Ayew stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake, placing his shot straight down the centre of goal.
The home side didn't let up, though, as they continued to press forward in numbers.
Westwood squandered another good chance on 71 minutes before Adrian was called into action to keep out Alan Hutton's close-range header.
A rare West Ham chance arrived on 79 minutes, but Pedro Obiang's speculative effort from outside the area was comfortably gathered by Guzan in the Villa goal.
There was one more chance for the Hammers in the fifth minute of injury time, but Enner Valencia saw his shot from outside the box saved in the bottom-right corner by Guzan.