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Pellegrini blames concentration as West Ham let lead slip

LONDON (Reuters) - West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini found himself back in the firing line after his side squandered a lead to lose 2-1 at Crystal Palace on Thursday and slip closer to the bottom three.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v West Ham United - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - December 26, 2019 West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Robert Snodgrass’s 57th-minute goal gave the Hammers high hopes of a second-successive victory in the Premier League but former player Cheikhou Kouyate equalised and Jordan Ayew scored a magical 90th-minute clincher for Palace.

It means West Ham could find themselves in the bottom three by the time they kick off at home to Leicester City on Saturday.

West Ham have now surrendered 15 points from winning positions this season and their frailty has left Chilean Pellegrini scratching his head.

“When you are winning 1-0, of course you are disappointed after you lose the game 2-1,” Pellegrini, who was reported to be one game away from the sack before West Ham beat Southampton 1-0 12 days ago, told reporters.

“I don’t think we played a bad game today, but you need to have a good performance and have results. Playing away, winning 1-0, I think we deserved a better result, but you must be concentrated in your defending until the last minute.

“I don’t know if it’s mentality or a lack of concentration.”

West Ham’s home form has been especially poor and they have not won at the London Stadium for five league games.

Pellegrini knows that must change.

“We need to recover in 48 hours and we must try to win our home games because in the last games we played there, we have not collected the amount of points that we need,” he said.

While West Ham face a relegation battle, Palace’s first win in four league games lifted them into the top half of the table.

Their total of 26 points is their second-highest from 19 games in the Premier League and they are only three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham and six behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Veteran boss Roy Hodgson praised the resilience of his players who were already missing several injured team mates and lost defender Patrick van Aanholt midway through the second half.

“Everything seemed to be adding up against us today, it didn’t seem to be one of those days where you could have quite easily sat back and blamed fate and cursed your luck,” he said.

“But the players didn’t do that, they still believed and at 1-1 they believed the winner was out there and they were right.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar