West Ham are sunk by dramatic late penalty at Southampton
PUBLISHED: 17:17 19 August 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers 10-men are cruelly denied a point after Chicharito double
Southampton 3 West Ham United 2
It was an afternoon of agony on the South Coast, where the 10-man Hammers were finally beaten by substitute Charlie Austin’s late, late penalty.
Red-hot finishing from Mexican magician Javier Hernández looked to have earned depleted West Ham United a point, when the ‘Little Pea’ struck a defiant double after Manolo Gabbiadini had ended Southampton’s nine-hour home goal drought with an early opener and Dušan Tadic had doubled the lead for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men with a spot-kick.
But having played for an hour with 10-men after Marko Arnautović had been dismissed for a first-half elbow on Jack Stephens - and having fought back from that two-goal deficit - Hammers hearts were finally broken by that second Saints penalty in stoppage time.
And that summed up a dismal day for Slaven Bilić, who had already made a quartet of changes from the side that had slumped to a forlorn, four-goal opening day defeat at Manchester United by handing starts to ex-Saint, José Fonte, full debutant Declan Rice, fit-again Michail Antonio and Sam Byram in place of substitutes Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku, Edimilson Fernandes and Pedro Obiang.
Indeed, the Croatian’s afternoon took a bizarre turn for the worse before the game had even kicked-off, when Winston Reid was stretchered away during the warm-up. Having signed a new six-year contract just 24 hours earlier, the crocked Kiwi was replaced by the reprieved Ogbonna as the Hammers were now restricted to just six substitutes on their depleted bench.
Although West Ham edged the opening exchanges with Arnautović wastefully firing wide after being put clean through by Antonio, who then headed straight to Fraser Forster, it did not take long for Bilić’s afternoon to unravel yet further.
For on just 11 minutes, the Saints – who had made just one change with £18 million record-signing Mario Lemina replacing substitute James Ward-Prowse – broke the deadlock, when Nathan Redmond invited Gabbiadini to outpace Fonte and slot a low 12-yarder across the face of Joe Hart into the far corner.
That was Southampton’s first goal at St Mary’s Stadium for 587 barren minutes and, with the home fans making the most of a rare celebration, Redmond also tested Hart with a 20-yarder before Tadić escaped with a mere booking for an obscenely high tackle on Hernández.
In response, Chicharito dusted himself down and soon crossed for Arnautović, whose point-blank, diving header cannoned into Fraser Forster’s ribcage before former Juventus midfielder Lemina was lucky to escape unpunished for elbowing the angry Austrian on the half-way line.
And in scenes reminiscent of the old, dark days of Serie A, as the tackle flew in, skipper Mark Noble was allowed to lunge into Lemina under the gaze of lenient Lee Mason.
An apoplectic Arnautović did not fare so well on 33 minutes, however, when he followed through with an elbow on Jack Stephens at the expense of an instant red card as the hitherto carefree official decided enough was enough.
With the Southampton sun beating down on his technical area, the temperature was certainly rising for the beleaguered Bilić, who then saw Tadić double the Saints lead with a penalty that ricocheted in-off Hart’s right-hand ankle after Fonte and Ogbonna had taken turns to tug back Steven Davis inside the area.
Down but not out, the 10-man Hammers did give themselves a glimmer of second-half hope a minute before the break, when Antonio cleverly spun Oriol Romeu before letting fly from 20 yards and, although Forster managed to parry the stinging, low effort, Hernández stole a march on Ryan Bertrand to steer the loose ball into the net.
Just after the restart, the Mexican might even have drawn West Ham level with a curler from the left-hand side of the area that Forster gratefully gloved around the post as Antonio raced in for the kill and, shortly afterwards, André Ayew’s header hit the outstretched arm of Stephens but the visitors’ frantic penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.
On the hour, Gabbiadini splintered Hart’s crossbar with a dipping 20-yarder before Hernández replied from similar range with a curling effort that flew inches wide, while Tadić also forced Hart to beat out his 15-yard shot that fizzed through a forest of legs.
Ward-Prowse replaced Lemina midway through the second-half, while Bilić made a double-switch as Diafra Sakho and Fernandes came on for Antonio and Ayew in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game.
Certainly, it was a changeover that quickly paid dividends for, when Aaron Cresswell sent over a left wing cross on 74 minutes, Sakho met the centre with a thumping header that Forster could only push onto his crossbar and that man Hernández proved to be the Javier on the spot as he crashed the equaliser high into the net from a couple of yards to the joy of everyone Claret & Blue in the St Mary’s crowd.
Redmond rocked the bar in the dying minutes but just when the Hammers thought they had come through an afternoon of adversity, there was another cruel twist the tale as the consequently-cautioned Pablo Zabaleta was adjudged to have shoved Maya Yoshida as they went in pursuit of Ward-Prowse’s cross and Austin fired home the winner from the spot.
SAINTS: Forster, Bertrand, Cédric, Stephens, Yoshida, Romeu, Davis (Long 80), Lemina (Ward-Prowse 64), Tadić, Redmond, Gabbiadini (Austin 80). Unused subs: McCarthy, Bednarek, McQueen, Boufal.
HAMMERS: Hart, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Fonte, Ogbonna, Noble, Rice (Obiang 76), Antonio (Sakho 67), Ayew (Fernandes 67), Arnautović, Hernández. Unused subs: Adrián, Byram, Masuaku.
Booked: Tadić (15), Zabaleta (90).
Sent-off: Arnautović (33).
Referee: Lee Mason
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