West Ham move into Premier League top half with deserved win over Saints
PUBLISHED: 22:01 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 22:26 27 December 2018
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The Hammers come from behind to beat Southampton with Anderson double
Southampton 1 West Ham United 2
Felipe Anderson brought a beaming light of Brazilian sunshine to shivering St Mary’s Stadium, where Manuel Pellegrini’s patched-up Hammers got back to winning ways to beat Southampton and end 2018 in the heady heights of ninth-spot.
The record £43million summer signing, sent the Saints marching to defeat with a deadly double to extend his lead at the top of the West Ham United scoring charts, where his tally now stands at eight goals for the season.
After edging a goalless first half, the Hammers found themselves trailing after the break to Nathan Redmond’s controversial opener, but that man Anderson struck twice inside six minutes to bag all three points for Manuel’s men.
The Hammers fantastic four-game winning streak had been brought to an abrupt halt by Watford on Saturday and, after seeing his injury-hit side fail to make it a festive five-timer, Pellegrini had made a quintet of changes.
Lucas Pérez, Angelo Ogbonna, Grady Diangana, Pedro Obiang and Aaron Cresswell came in for Javier Hernández (knee), Fabián Balbuena (knee), Pablo Zabaleta (virus) plus substitutes Arthur Masuaku and Mark Noble, who took their places on a depleted six-man bench.
The arrival of Ralph Hasenhüttl had seen the Saints win two of their first three outings under the new manager’s command and following the weekend victory at Huddersfield Town that lifted Southampton into 16th-spot – nine points and four places below the Hammers – the Austrian made just one enforced change as Mario Lemina replaced the suspended Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.
Cheered by their win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, the Saints were soon looking to raise their glasses yet again as Redmond let fly with a quick-fire 18-yarder that Lukasz Fabianski held at head height, before Danny Ings then ripped another early, angled effort into the side netting.
But with the reshuffled Hammers gradually finding their feet, the visitors forced two corners, before Robert Snodgrass drilled a low 20-yarder into Alex McCarthy’s gloves and, after Stuart Armstrong replied with an angled effort that bounced just inches wide of the far post, Pérez should have broken the deadlock.
Smart work by Anderson down the left flank saw the Brazilian play in an over-lapping captain Cresswell, whose low cross fell invitingly into the path of the unmarked Spaniard, who was left looking high into the steamy Southampton skies after scuffing wide from eight yards.
The cheers from the freezing Hammers fans at the opposite end quickly turned to tears as they belatedly realised that Pérez had fluffed his lines and, shortly afterwards, Anderson curled a more difficult chance wide for his makeshift side.
By now, West Ham – with the lighthouse-like Declan Rice shining like a beacon through the Hampshire mist - were matching Southampton pass-for-pass and tackle-for-tackle and breaking from the middle third, Pellegrini’s troops were outnumbering the Saints in the possession, shots and corner count
As the interval approached, an unbalanced Snodgrass let fly from 18 yards and, although his shot sailed wide to keep it goalless at the interval, the second half did not take long to burst into life.
Indeed, within just six minutes of the restart, Southampton had taken the lead in controversial circumstances, when the ball deflected into Redmond’s path, eight yards out and with an offside Matt Targett lying prone in the six-yard box, even the Saints striker – who had scored his first goal of the season at Huddersfield on Saturday - hesitated before firing at the helplessly exposed Fabianski, who brilliantly beat out the shot.
Oriol Romeu then followed up and, yet again, the Hammers ‘keeper defiantly parried the point-blank effort but the Pole could do nothing to stop Redmond stab the ball over the line at the third attempt to the annoyance of the visitors, whose appeals for an offside flag fell on the deaf ears of referee Craig Pawson.
Down but certainly not out, West Ham took just two minutes to respond in the best possible way.
Cresswell’s burst to the by-line, saw his cross headed clear by opposite No. 3 Maya Yoshida but the danger was not over for Southampton as Anderson – lurking on the edge of the area - gleefully strolled on to the loose ball to rifle a 20-yarder beyond the outstretched right glove of the diving McCarthy and inside the left-hand upright to level.
Pellegrini immediately pitched Andy Carroll into action at the expense of Grady Diangana and, as the hour-mark approached, the game was turned on its head inside a matter of seconds.
Armstrong’s curling 20-yarder was athletically pawed wide of his left-hand post by the flying Fabianski, but when Southampton floated over their first corner of the evening, the Hammers won possession and launched their own incisive counter-attack.
With the home defence desperately retreating, Michail Antonio had the choice of four supporting team-mates and, keeping his cool, the stand-in right back played in Anderson with a perfectly-weighted pass and the Brazilian advanced forward before expertly lifting a 15-yarder over the stranded McCarthy to give the Hammers the lead.
After Targett was booked for upending Antonio, Pérez slashed another effort wide in his last act of the evening as Noble stepped from the dug-out, while Hasenhüttl went for bust with the introductions of Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Mohamed Elyounoussi at the expense of Ings, Yoshida and Lemina.
Carroll’s booking for a juddering aerial challenge on Jan Bednarek fired up the home crowd, too, but in the end only two smart, late saves from McCarthy prevented two-goal Anderson from taking home the match-ball as a belated Christmas present on a night when the Hammers ended 2018 with three thoroughly deserved points.
SAINTS: McCarthy, Valery, Vestergaard, Yoshida (Austin 79), Bednarek, Targett, Romeu, Armstrong, Lemina (Elyounoussi 87), Redmond, Ings (Long 62). Unused subs: Gunn, Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Ramsay.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Antonio, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Obiang, Rice, Snodgrass (Masuaku 90+2), Diangana (Carroll 54), Anderson, Pérez (Noble 77). Unused subs: Adrián, Silva, Coventry.
Booked: Targett (65), Carroll (82).
Referee: Craig Pawson