West Ham claimed a vital win over fellow strugglers Southampton at at St Mary's Stadium, to move up to 15th in the Premier League table, four points above the drop zone.
Sebastien Haller gave West Ham the lead on 37 minutes with a precise finish off of the base of the post. In the second half Michail Antonio had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball in the build up and despite some late Southampton pressure, the Hammers held out to claim victory.
It was a clash between 16th and 18th in the Premier League table coming into the game, with only one point separating the sides.
It was almost the perfect start for West Ham a free-kick was whipped into the penalty area and headed into the back of the net by Declan Rice, but the midfielder was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out by the nearest assistant referee.
West Ham had started brighter. Pablo Fornals came close to finding the opening goal of the game but his flicked effort was deflected wide of the Southampton goal.
The away supporters were making plenty of noise, adding to an atmosphere inside the ground that signified the importance of a win for both sides in this game.
The away side felt they should have had a penalty on 25 minutes. Both Michail Antonio and Haller were sent tumbling in the penalty area following a dangerous cross, but a VAR review decided that a penalty shouldn’t be given.
The Hammers were looking dangerous from wide positions, crossing into the penalty area with ease. Unsurprisingly they took the lead with eight minutes to go before half time.
The tireless Antonio worked hard to win the ball back for his side before a deep Robert Snodgrass cross was nodded back to Haller by Fornals at the far post, and finished by the Frenchman via the post. The 25-year-old’s 1st goal in nine Premier League games.
The Southampton players went in to boos from the home supporters at the break with the score at 1-0 to West Ham.
It took just seconds for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to continue where they off from the first half. Fornals found an unbelievably amount of space on the edge of the Southampton penalty area, but his well hit shot was expertly saved by Saints’ goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
Southampton came close to equalising just moments later. Cedric Soares dangerous, first time ball was headed by James Ward-Prowse from just a couple of yards out, but the cross was just too high for the 25-year-old to direct his effort on target.
But with just six minutes played in a frantic second period, the impressive Antonio thought he had fired the away side into a two goal lead. His strength and direct running was too much for the Southampton defenders as he thumped the ball past McCarthy and into the bottom corner.
The goal was given, but a VAR review showed the ball slightly touched the hand of the attacker in the build-up, and the goal was ruled out.
Southampton had grown in the game, searching for the equalising goal. Moussa Djenepo found himself space to hit a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but his effort was well off target.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side had their best chance of the game with 20 minutes to go.
Danny Ings’ couldn’t have come closer as he struck the bar from close range. The ball then bounced on the goal-line without crossing it, before Shane Long hit his follow up shot into the side netting. West Ham survived, Southampton were on top.
Southampton looked to be incredibly hard done by with just 15 minutes to go. Ings fired a shot into the top corner, past the outstretched hand of David Martin in the West Ham goal, but referee Martin Atkinson pulled play back for a soft foul in the build up.
Just moments later McCarthy stopped West Ham doubling their lead, in what was turning out to be an entertaining game, palming away a strong Haller striker for a corner.
Despite late Saints’ pressure, they couldn’t find an equaliser. West Ham holding on to their 1-0 lead to take a much needed first victory in three games, a win that also keeps Southampton in the bottom three.
Next up for Southampton is another crunch clash with Aston Villa, while West Ham are away to Crystal Palace in a London derby.
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