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West Ham United 3-1 Watford
WEST HAM UNITED produced an emphatic first-half display to blow away fellow strugglers, Watford, and take a giant step towards securing their Premier League status on Friday evening.
David Moyes – calm and collected – insisted his side where well-equipt for the task in hand, using previous experiences in the Hammers hot-seat as a gage ahead of arguably the east Londoners biggest game in their recent history.
“I think we are in a good place and think we are playing quite well,” the Scotsman enthused.
“We are quite comfortable with what we are doing but obviously we know the importance of the game. The good thing is that I have been here before, the last time I was here.
“The last three games we won at Leicester, drew with Man Utd and beat Everton so if we take something similar in points this time around then I have no doubt we will remain a Premier League club.”
Watford too had hit a bit of form, winning back-to-back matches against Norwich and Newcastle United – leaving the Hornets beneath the hosts on goal difference. But it was West Ham who started the brighter – particularly last weeks four-goal hero from Carrow Road, Michail Antonio.
The winger took only six minutes to open his account – firing through the legs of Hornets stopper, Ben Foster, after Tomas Soucek and Pablo Forals had fashioned an opening.
Hammers tails were up and they swiftly doubled their advantage. The impressive Soucek firmly headed high beyond the stranded Foster – Jarrod Bowen the provider, delivering superbly from the right – Watford left shaken and stunned at the ease they’d been repeatedly breached.
Tom Cleverly and Ismaila Sarr ran into traffic as the Hornets looked to steady the ship. But the Hornets vessel was rapidly taking in water. Declan Rice let fly from fully twenty-five yards – Foster, again left spectating as the ball fizzed int the net for West Ham’s third of the evening.
Craig Dawson and Christain Kabasele both sent headed attempts wide either side of the interval. But the Hornets did reduce the arrears four minutes after the restart. Skipper, Troy Deeney on hand to finish from close range after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s initial effort had come back off the foot of an upright.
It was now a case of all hands to the pump for West Ham as Nigel Pearson’s men began to enjoy sustained possession and ask the sterner questions. But it was teh home side who came close to extending their advantage. Substitute Sebastien Haller seized on a mistake from Kabasele, only to see Foster pull off remarkable save – somehow twisting while backpedalling and flipping away to keep Watford in the contest.
Danny Welbeck somehow managed to lift over from six-yards as Watford continued to press. But crucially, West Ham had weathered the storm with reasonable comfort. Of course, the job isn’t yet done, but as Hammers supporters take a collective sigh of relief over their six-point cushion, they will also be inquisitive as to why this group have been unable to produce this recent level throughout what has been another questionable campaign?
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Wednesday, July 23 when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford (6pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Mark Noble (Capt), Jarrod Bowen (Andriy Yarmolenko 81’) Pablo Fornals (Sebastien Haller 72’), Anglo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio (Fabian Balbuena 90+2’), Declan Rice, Ben Johnson Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Arthur Masuaku, Conor Coventry
Goals: Michail Antonio 6’, Tomas Soucek 10’, Declan Rice 36’
Watford: Ben Foster, Craig Dawson, Tom Cleverley, Troy Deeney (Capt) (Andre Gray 67’), Danny Welbeck (Joao Pedro 86’), Adam Masina (Adrian Mariappa 46’), Abdoulaye Doucoure (Nathaniel Chalobah 72’), Will Hughes, Kiko Femenia, Ismaila Sarr, Christian Kabasele Subs not used: Heurelho Gomes (GK), Craig Cathcart, Domingos Quina, Ignacio Pussetto, Robert Pereyra
Booked: Tom Cleverley (foul), Will Hughes (foul)
Goals: Troy Deeney 49’
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth Official: David Coote