West Ham grab vital win with three-goal blast against Southampton
PUBLISHED: 17:10 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 29 February 2020
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The Hammers haul themselves out of the relegation zone with priceless win
West Ham United 3 Southampton 1
They marched to the London Stadium protesting against the club regime and left having seen their dominant and determined Hammers team send the sorry Saints marching home pointless.
And on a day when this vital victory lifted West Ham United out of the dreaded drop-zone, the entire East End will now be demanding more of the same over ten, tense final games of the season for David Moyes' boys.
Jarrod Bowen, a £20million, deadline-day signing was the catalyst for three richly-deserved points, taking less than a quarter-hour to mark his first start for West Ham with his opening goal for the club.
Although Michael Obafemi then levelled against the run of the play, Sébastien Haller restored home advantage just before the break and, ten minutes into the second period, former Saint, Michail Antonio, put sufficient daylight between the Hammers and his former team to cement a wonderful win down West Ham way.
Following their narrow defeat against runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Monday evening, Moyes made a trio of changes as Bowen came in for his first start in Claret & Blue alongside Haller and Pablo Fornals as injured Tomáš Souček (groin) sat out and Robert Snodgrass plus Felipe Anderson found themselves on the bench.
From the moment when Aaron Cresswell juddered into Stuart Armstrong in the opening seconds, West Ham looked full of desire and dogged determination with Bowen confidently demanding the ball down the right wing and Haller just being denied as he looked to get on the end of Fornals' cross from the opposite flank.
Antonio also broke forward but with three team-mates in support, the former Saint chose the wrong option and a golden chance looked to have been lost as Bowen was given far too much to do with the sloppy final pass.
On 14 minutes, however, the hungry Hammer showed just David Moyes' had put a Tiger in his tank, when the former Hull City goal-getter broke the deadlock by converting an even more difficult chance.
Making his 100th West Ham United appearance, Declan Rice picked out Fornals down the left and the Spaniard cleverly slotted the ball through to Bowen, who got behind Jan Bednarek before clipping a deft, angled 10-yarder beyond Alex McCarthy.
The Hammers fans in the crowd of 59,962 rose as one to salute their new hero as he slid on his knees towards the corner flag in celebration and those home supporters might have been cheering again, shortly afterwards, but Haller powerfully headed into the clutches of the Southampton 'keeper, who then easily held a 20-yard grass-cutter from the buzzing Bowen.
Kicking off in 13th spot - five places and ten points above the Hammers - the Saints had made two changes from the side that had beaten Aston Villa last time out, with Obafemi and Sofiane Boufal coming in for Moussa Djenepo and top-scoring substitute Danny Ings.
Apart from forcing a trio of corners, though, the visitors offered up little threat during the opening half-hour as the Hammers hurried and hassled Ralph Hasenhüttl's side over every blade of the London Stadium grass.
But on 31 minutes, Armstrong foraged forward before playing in the over-lapping James Ward-Prowse and his right-wing cut-back was diverted under the left-hand by Obafemi, who had escaped the attentions of Rice to conjure up that unexpected Southampton equaliser with his third goal of the season.
In reply, Issa Diop somehow headed Cresswell's deep corner wide as the Hammers looked to regain their obvious superiority.
Sure enough, five minutes before the break, Haller nodded the ball wide to Antonio, who lofted a return pass into the six-yard box, where the flying Frenchman incredibly rose above McCarthy to head the ball goal-wards.
With both the Southampton 'keeper and Ryan Bertrand in no-man's land, Haller gratefully slid home from the tightest of tight angles to claim his seventh goal for the club - and his first since New Year's Day - following his £45million transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt last summer.
Having no doubt been subjected to a Ralph rocket at half-time, the visitors flew out of the traps for the restart and Łukasz Fabianski's goal led a charmed life in the opening minutes, leading Hasenhüttl to introduce 18-goal Ings in place of Jack Stephens, who had earlier been booked for tugging back the an escaping Antonio.
But the Saints substitute was still strutting onto the London Stadium turf, when Fabianski launched the ball upfield, where Haller nodded on to Fornals, who quickly sent Antonio behind Bednarek and McCarthy was given no chance as West Ham's No.30 clinically buried the chance from 10 yards.
And having just netted his second goal of the season, Antonio again found himself with just the Saints stopper to beat but this time McCarthy denied him with an outstretched leg before Bowen - job done - departed with a standing ovation ringing in his ears ahead of a final whistle that drew similar applause for his team-mates, who must now take that effort, energy, enthusiasm in those final ten games, starting at Arsenal next Saturday.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Ngakia, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Noble, Rice, Fornals (Anderson 90+1), Antonio, Bowen (Snodgrass 77), Haller. Unused subs: Randolph, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Lanzini, Masuaku.
SOUTHAMPTON: McCarthy, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Stephens (Ings 53), Bednarek, Smallbone (Romeu 78), Højbjerg, Obafemi (Vestergaard 68), Armstrong, Bertrand, Long. Unused subs: Gunn, Adams, Walker-Peters, Valery.
Booked: Stephens (45+1), Cresswell (64).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
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