West Ham too good for West Brom
PUBLISHED: 17:20 30 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:20 30 April 2016
PA/Press Association Images
The Hammers keep European dream alive
West Brom 0 West Ham United 3
The Hammers took another giant leap towards Europe at the Hawthorns, where Mark Noble’s double-barrelled blast after Cheikhou Kouyate’s opener extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 10 games.
Kouyate headed West Ham ahead with his fifth goal of the campaign 10 minutes before the break and Noble doubled the claret and blue advantage when he prodded home in first-half stoppage time.
And the club skipper - who also bagged a brace from the penalty spot last time out - volleyed home in the closing stages to secure a comprehensive victory for Slaven Bilić’s side, who move up to fifth spot.
Following their 3-1 win over Watford ten days ago, the high-flying Hammers were unchanged as they kicked off 15 points and seven places above the Baggies, whose battling draw at White Hart Lane on Monday had all but scuppered Tottenham’s title dreams.
Tony Pulis made just two changes to the side that had fought back against all odds to snatch that destructive point as Ben Foster replaced Boaz Myhill between the posts, while 17-year-old Jonathan Leko made his first-ever start for the Midlanders in place of substitute Stephane Sessegnon.
And with just 10 minutes on the clock, the new kid on the Baggies block burst to the right-hand byline before cutting back towards the penalty spot, where Craig Gardner’s point-blank shot was charged down before James McClean’s follow-up cannoned off Adrian’s shins.
Then, as the quarter-hour mark approached, Gardner’s angled 15-yard curler was guided around the far post by Adrian for the first corner of a drizzly afternoon.
The Hammers first serious assault on Albion’s goal came after 20 minutes, when Andy Carroll rose highest to meet Manuel Lanzini’s right-wing cross but his header looped well over Foster’s crossbar.
Roared on by his own fans in the 25,031 crowd, local lad Leko continued to threaten and, this time, his right-wing centre was wastefully headed wide by Gardner, when it would surely have been easlier to score.
At the other end, Michail Antonio’s power and persistence down the right saw the ball finally fizz crossfield to Dimitri Payet, who played in the over-lapping Aaron Cresswell. And, when the left-back fired a low centre into the danger-zone, the sliding Diafra Sakho was just an agonising stud away from applying the finishing touch.
On 33 minutes, the Hammers produced another slick move that saw Lanzini waltz through midfield before linking up with Payet, whose angled pass saw Sakho unleash a low shot that Foster beat around the base of his near post.
Still the danger was not clear, though, for within just a minute, West Ham were ahead.
Albion may have dealt with two consequent corners, but when Winston Reid regained possession midway inside the home side’s half, he sprayed the ball wide to Payet who, having already created over a century of goalscoring chances this season, conjured up yet another one with a deep cross into the six-yard box, where Kouyate got in front of Gareth McAuley to break the deadlock with an angled header that crept inside the far post.
Then, in added time, Kouyate turned provider as the Senegalese burst from halfway before finding Noble with a left-wing pass and the West Ham United captain prodded a low 12-yard effort past Foster, a split-second ahead of Jonny Evans’ futile lunge.
Just after the restart, Carroll cleverly headed back across goal, but no-one was on hand to convert, while at the other end, Leko went within a whisker of levelling before Pulis made a double switch for the final half-hour.
McClean and Claudio Yacob were replaced by Sandro and Saido Berahino, who soon sent a low 12-yarder inches past the base of Adrian’s right-hand upright.
Emmanuel Emenike also stepped from the Hammers bench as Sakho stood down, but it was another substitute, Sandro, who went close with a low 20-yarder as Albion desperately searched for a lifeline back into the contest.
But with 11 minutes left, the soon-to-be-substituted Payet produced one final magical act of his creative afternoon, when he danced deep into Baggies territory before finding Carroll with an angled pass.
And, when the big Geordie lofted the ball to the edge of the six-yard box, that man Noble flew through the chilly Black Country air to lash a volley into the roof of the net as Jonas Olsson looked on.
“Too good for England,” came the cries from the ecstatic East Enders as their uncapped skipper celebrated his seventh goal of the campaign and, as he now prepares for the two emotional games that will finally see the curtain fall on the Boleyn Ground stage, at least Noble looks set for a European tour with the Hammers.
West Brom: Foster, Olsson, Yacob (Sandro 61), Evans, Gardner (Sessegnon 77), McClean (Berahino 61), McAuley, Fletcher, Dawson, Rondon, Leko. Unused subs: Myhill, Chester, Lambert, Roberts.
West Ham: Adrian, Antonio, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Noble, Lanzini (Oxford 87), Payet (Moses 81), Sakho (Emenike 66) Carroll. Unused subs: Randolph, Tomkins, Collins, Byram.
Referee: Lee Mason.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Newham Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.