West Ham storm back to win seven-goal thriller
PUBLISHED: 17:11 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 March 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Chicharito scores a deadly double to sink Huddersfield
West Ham United 4 Huddersfield Town 3
On a barking mad afternoon at the London Stadium the Hammers somehow stole a dramatic victory from the jaws of defeat against the Terriers thanks to a late, late double from Javier Hernández.
West Ham United came into this contest as overwhelming favourites against a Huddersfield Town team looking doomed for the dreaded drop and everything looked to be going to form, when Mark Noble put the Hammers into the lead with a 15th-minute penalty.
But the visitors came back snapping and biting as Juninho Bacuna quickly levelled before Karlan Grant netted on the half-hour mark to give his side an interval lead.
And when Grant scored a sensational second midway through the second period, the Hammers looked dead and buried.
Angelo Ogbonna’s header gave Manuel Pellegrini’s men hope with a quarter of an hour remaining, though, and then half-time substitute Hernández sent the Hammers roaring to victory with two headers inside the final seven minutes.
West Ham may have had their troubles on the road but back on the green, green grass of home, Pellegrini’s team – kicking off in ninth spot, eleven places and 25 points above Town - had come into this match unbeaten at London Stadium in their last six matches.
But following another ‘unacceptable’ away defeat at Cardiff City last weekend, the Chilean made a trio of changes to his side as Marko Arnautović, Michail Antonio and Pablo Zabaleta were recalled in place of Ryan Fredericks plus substitutes Hernández and Robert Snodgrass.
And within seven minutes, that reshuffle almost paid a quick dividend, when Zabaleta forced a corner, which eventually found its way to Declan Rice, whose hook back into the danger-zone was met by the soaring Antonio but his header rocked Jonas Lössl’s crossbar.
On the quarter-hour mark, though, West Ham did, indeed, take the lead when debutant Aaron Rowe tripped Manuel Lanzini in the area and that saw referee Jonathan Moss immediately point to the spot.
Reliable as ever, Noble drilled his third successful penalty of the season straight down the middle as Lössl took off to his left and that opener looked to have set the Hammers comfortably on their way to victory.
After all, having arrived in the windy capital without an away goal since Boxing Day and, with seven losses in their last eight Premier League outings, the rock-bottom Terriers were already enduring a stormy season.
Following last Saturday’s defeat against Bournemouth, Jan Siewert had made five changes to the team that has been picked off by the Cherries as Rowe was handed that first start, while skipper Tommy Smith returned alongside Grant, Terence Kongolo, and Chris Löwe in place of Christopher Schindler, Elias Kachunga and substitutes Zanka, Phillip Billing and Steve Mounie.
But within just two minutes of falling behind to that Noble penalty, the Yorkshiremen clawed themselves level, when Bacuna ghosted between Issa Diop and Antonio to meet Aaron Mooy’s right-wing corner with a thumping 10-yard header that gave Lukasz Fabianski simply no chance.
In reply, Antonio curled a 20-yarder inches over Lössl’s right-hand angle but, incredibly, it was Huddersfield who also netted the next goal.
On the half-hour mark, with the Hammers expecting Mooy to launch a free-kick into their area, his partner in crime Alex Pritchard rolled the award to the overlapping Löwe, whose low left-wing cross towards the edge of the six-yard box was drilled home by Grant as Ogbonna belatedly slid-in.
With the visiting striker celebrating his second goal since joining the Terriers from Charlton Athletic in January, it was difficult to discern which set of supporters in the crowd of 59,931 was in deeper shock as the Blue & White fans made their voices heard above the stunned Claret & Blue army, who began conducting their inquests long before the half-time break.
Hernández replaced Antonio for the restart and, within minutes of his arrival, the escaping Mexican forced the brave Lössl to dive into his studs, while at the other end Bacuna almost grabbed his second of the afternoon but the flying Fabianski palmed the curling, swerving 20-yarder over his left-hand angle.
Debutant Rowe then hobbled away on an eventful afternoon that he will not forget in a hurry as Billing stepped from the bench and, on the hour, Samir Nasri replaced Noble.
Foraging Felipe Anderson then carved a pathway from halfway but Arnautović could only scuff his resulting shot to Lössl and that proved to be a wasteful, telling miss for the Austrian.
Indeed, on 65 minutes, Grant collected Kongolo’s pass out of defence and, after riding Diop’s disastrous lunge, the pacy Terrier advanced to the edge of the Hammers area, where he bent an 18-yarder around Ogbonna and Fabianski to claim his second of the game with an unstoppable curler under the right-hand angle.
Both Huddersfield scorers then departed as Jason Puncheon and then Mounie came on for Bacuna and Grant, while Arnautović also made way for Lucas Pérez as the boos rang around Stratford.
With a quarter-hour remaining, though, Ogbonna lifted the mood, when he met Aaron Cresswell’s left-wing corner with a powerful downward header that beat both Lössl and Mooy on the goal-line.
The Italian’s third goal of the season set up a furious finale as Cresswell swept another low left-wing centre across the face of goal, while Billing was yellow carded for tugging Anderson just minutes after the consequently-cautioned Pritchard had committed a similar offence on Nasri.
Then, with just seven minutes remaining, Hernández ghosted in at the far post to meet Nasri’s right-wing cross with a diving header that flew across the face of Lössl as he claimed his seventh goal of the season.
Then after Huddersfield had chances of their own to grab a winner, a minute into stoppage time, Anderson collected Cresswell’s short corner and crossed into the six-yard box, where Hernández sent those faithful fans who had remained in the stadium into raptures with a glancing header that both secured an unlikely victory for the Hammers and sent heartbroken Huddersfield another step closer to the Championship.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Noble (Nasri 59) Rice, Lanzini, Anderson, Antonio (Hernández h/t), Arnautović (Pérez 67). Unused subs: Adrián, Balbuena, Snodgrass, Masuaku.
TERRIERS: Lössl, Smith, Durm, Stankovic, Kongolo, Bacuna (Puncheon 67), Mooy, Löwe, Pritchard, Rowe (Billing 55), Grant (Mounie 70). Unused subs: Hamer, Zanka, Hadergjonaj, Daly.
Booked: Pritchard (73), Billing (77)
Referee: Jon Moss
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