Gritty Hammers hold Villa at arms-length

West Ham United 2-1 Aston Villa

At times, they rode their luck. But ultimately West Ham United dug deep, held their nerve, got a big slice of fortune and claimed their fifth Premier League victory in eight outings.

Visitors Aston Villa – themselves having enjoyed a decent start to the season – made it difficult. But David Moyes’ side are made of sterner stuff these days and they moved up to fifth place thanks to goals at the start of each half from Angelo Ogbonna and Jarrod Bowen.

It took the Hammers less than two minutes to break the deadlock. Ogbonna powerfully heading Bowen’s flag-kick beyond Villa stopper Emiliano Martínez with the home side’s very first foray forward.

Trézéguet dragged Villa’s best early opportunity the wrong side of an upright after Jack Grealish had fashioned an opening, while Ezri Konsa Ngoyo nodded over as the West Midlanders began to find their feet.

Lukasz Fabianski turned aside Conor Hourihane’s dead-ball attempt as Villa stepped up the tempo – and midway through the half, they restored parity. Grealish with a crisp finish from fully 25-yards.

Having overcome their slow start, Villa were now bossing proceedings with the Hammers pressed back and seemingly unable to find an outlet. Ollie Watkins was a whisker away from turning the game on its head, sending his effort wide after Hourihane’s pass had deflected into his path. Then Hourihane found the side netting – Fabianski unmoved as his free-kick sailed inches away from the target.

But for all their dominance, Villa were to fall behind again seconds after the restart. Substitute Said Benrahma clipped into Bowen – the former Hull City man beating Martinez with a glancing header from eight yards.

Tyrone Mings cleared a driven centre from Pablo Fornals as West Ham looked to put daylight between the sides. Meanwhile, Fabianski produced a wonderful save to deny Trézéguet as the Villa man looked set to convert Watkins’ low cross from the left.

Watkins headed over after Grealish had produced an outrageous piece of skill to create an opening. But when Trézéguet went down, seemingly after a shirt-pull from Declan Rice – referee, Peter Bankes pointed to the spot – Watkins opted for power – the crossbar taking the full force – West Ham surviving.

Bertrand Traoré drove a late chance directly at Fabianski as Villa probed without menace. But in stoppage-time, Watkins thought he’d rescued a point, only for a lengthy VAR check to deny the former Brentford man thanks to a minimal off-side call.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, December 5 when Manchester United visit the London Stadium (5:30pm).

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Creswell, Vladimir Coufal, Declan Rice (Capt), Tomas Soucek, Arthur Masuaku (Said Benrahma 46’), Jarrod Bowen (Mark Noble 79’), Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio (Sebastien Haller 46’) Subs not used: Manuel Lanzini, Issa Diop, Ben Johnson, Darren Randolph (GK)

Booked: Pablo Fornals (foul)
Goals: Angelo Ogbonna 2’, Jarrod Bowen 46’

Aston Villa: Emiliano Martínez, Matthew Cash (Ahmed El Mohamady 88’), Ezri Konsa Ngoyo, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Trézéguet (Anwar El Ghazi 74’), Conor Hourihane (Bertrand Traoré 74’), Jack Grealish (Capt), Ollie Watkins Subs not used: Neil Taylor, Jed Steer (GK), Marvelous Nakamba, Ahmed El Mohamady, Jacob Ramsey

Booked: Matthew Cash (foul)
Goals: Jack Grealish 25’

Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: Neil Davies and James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]