Impressive Hammers too strong for Villa

Aston Villa v West Ham United – Premier League – Villa Park – Report

Aston Villa 1-4 West Ham United

West Ham United continued their remarkable run of away form with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Taking charge of his 999th senior match as a manager, David Moyes was faced with a nice problem – A fully fit and functioning squad, brimming with confidence and fighting on all fronts. Despite Vladimir Coufal’s availability, the Scotsman continued with Ben Johnson at right-back. The 21-year-old, turning in some bright performances for the East Londoners during the first quarter of the campaign.

Villa’s recent form was cause for concern. Three-successive defeats had seen Dean Smith’s men slip to fifteenth in the table – Tyrone Mings amongst those paying the price and slipping to the bench.

Said Benrahma – Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup penalty hero – fired the games first opportunity into the Holte End after Jarrod Bowen had broken from deep. But Johnson was swift to justify his selection, cutting in from the right before dispatching a sweet, left-footed strike beyond Emiliano Martinez in only the seventh minute.

Ben Johnson fires West Ham United ahead at Villa Park (Rob Newell CameraSport)

West Ham were already firmly in control. Bowen was twice rebuffed within a matter of seconds, while Martinez clung to Tomas Soucek’s goalbound header as the visitors continued to ask almost all the early questions – a solitary Leon Bailey strike, gobbled up by Lukasz Fabianski, all the Villa had to show for their opening gambet. Their famous arena, a crescendo of anxiety as their charges struggled to make headway.

But just after the half-hour mark, the mood changed. Villa – neat and tidy down the right – Emiliano Buendia finding Ollie Watkins – The former Brentford man making no mistake from ten yards.

But Villa were on terms for just four minutes. Benrahma swept across to Declan Rice – The England man arrowing, right-footed into the bottom corner from twenty-five yards. It was a classy goal from a player in the peak of form just now and no more than the Hammers deserved.

Declan Rice restored West Ham United’s lead with this superb strike from 25-yards (Rob Newell CameraSport)

Villa’s plight was made all the more difficult when Ezri Konsa was sent-off after a VAR check – the central defender charged with denying a goalscoring opportunity after sending Bowen tumbling.

Indeed, Villa was a little lucky not to be down to nine – Pablo Fornals the recipient of a forearm to the jaw from Kortney Hause. This time, VAR judged the incident accidental.

Perhaps feeling aggrieved, Villa stepped up the tempo. Watkin’s headed against the face of the bar after skipper, John McGinn had picked him out. Nevertheless, with a goal and a man advantage, West Ham still held all the aces. Martinez produced a superb save to keep our a thundering free-kick from Rice, while Bowen should have down better, firing directly at the stopper after Fornals had fashioned an opening.

Cash fired the wrong side of an upright, but with ten minutes to goal West Ham killed the contest. Fornals was on hand to pick up the pieces after Martinez had parried from the on-rushing Bowen.

With their spirit crushed, Villa soon found themselves 4-1 behind. Bowen capped another busy performance after Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini had played a pivotal role.

Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring West Ham United’s fourth goal at Villa Park (Rob Newell CameraSport)

The Hammers are unbeaten in eight matches on their travels – five of which have come during the current campaign. They occupy fourth place in the table, level on points with Manchester City.

West Ham United now turn their attention to the UEFA Europa League when they travel to the Cegeka Arena to face Genk (5:45pm). They return to Premier League action on Sunday 7 when Liverpool visit the London Stadium (4:30pm).

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn (Capt), J.Ramsey (Young 15′), Buendia (Mings 52′), Bailey (El Ghazi 72′), Watkins Subs not used: Steer (GK), Tuanzebe, Young, Chukwuemeka, Archer, Davis, A.Ramsey

Booked: John McGinn (dissent)
Sent-off: Ezri Konsa (foul)
Goals: Ollie Watkins 34′

West Ham United: Fabiański, Johnson, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell (Coufal 90+1′), Rice (Capt), Souček, Bowen (Vlašić 90+1′), Benrahma (Lanzini 64′), Fornals, Antonio Subs not used: Areola (GK), Dawson, Diop, Masuaku, Noble, Yarmolenko

Booked: Jarrod Bowen (foul), Pablo Fornals (foul)
Goals: Ben Johnson 7′, Declan Rice 38′, Pablo Fornals 81′, Jarrod Bowen 84′

Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Dan Cook and Nick Hopton
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard

Attendance: 41,874

Brian Jeeves