West Ham United missed out on a fourth successive Premier League win as the festive fixtures concluded with a drab 0-0 draw at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.
Brighton would have leapfrogged West Ham into sixth place with a win but the chances were slim at the London Stadium with one point apiece, a fair result.
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Pascal Gross should have put Brighton ahead shortly before half-time but his header was saved by Alphonse Areola while Adam Lallana went close to scoring the late goal.
Pablo Fornals should have done better for the hosts after the break and Tomas Soucek also shot wide.
In the end, West Ham seemed content to take the tie that kept them in sixth place with 34 points from 20 games, while Brighton’s first clean sheet of the season in the league lifted them above Manchester United in seventh. place on goal difference with 31 points.
While the match will not live long in the memory, both sides can ring in the New Year with optimism, with European honors still possible and a challenge for a top-six place in the Premier League.
“It was disappointing from our point of view because I think we controlled the game and created enough chances,” Brighton midfielder James Milner, 37, told Sky Sports.
“But it was a solid performance, especially with the return of a couple of guys who hadn’t played much football.”
The evergreen Milner was making his 632nd appearance in the Premier League to equal Ryan Giggs and only Gareth Barry (653) has played more games in the competition.
West Ham won the first leg earlier in the season, ending a 13-game winless streak against Brighton.
But they failed to claim their first top-flight win at home against the south coast club since 1983.
“We had a couple of chances. Tomas Soucek had a great chance,” West Ham manager David Moyes said. “We were lucky a little bit. It’s been a really good Christmas, three wins and a draw. I have no complaints.”