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Premier League
Saturday, 16th March 2019

West Ham United 4
Huddersfield Town 3

by Chris Wilkerson


West Ham took three points they arguably didn’t deserve today on a dramatic afternoon at the London Stadium.

With defending more of an idea than anything concrete, the Hammers won by the odd goal in seven, a 4-3 win that had looked so unlikely as time ticked away.

Huddersfield have four wins in their last 12 months of Premier League football, yet with 15 minutes left on the clock, the Terriers were 3-1 up and not unduly threatened.

But West Ham got three goals in the next 20 minutes of play to turn what had been one of their worst performances of the season into a dramatic afternoon to remember.

Manuel Pellegrini made three changes from the side embarrassed last weekend in Wales, with Antonio, Zabaleta and Arnautovic replacing Snodgrass, Fredericks and Hernandez.

Just like last week, West Ham started poorly. Huddersfield controlled the ball from the start. But, as is the tune of their season, they threatened little in the final third.

It was West Ham who produced the first dangerous moment of the game.

A poor corner from Lanzini was recovered in the box by Declan Rice. Having taken the ball down, Rice put the ball back into the middle of the area. Deflected, it jumped high and was met by the head of Antonio, who was unfortunate to only hit the crossbar.

Huddersfield, so far from safety, showed no intention of playing for a draw, which gave West Ham space to play.

West Ham grew into the game, took control and then were handed the chance to take the lead as Lanzini won a penalty on 14 minutes. It had come from a Cresswell freekick, Lanzini reacted to a loose ball first and being fouled as he beat his man to the ball.

Noble stepped up, keeping penalty duties from Arnautovic, and just clipped it down the middle for 1-0 as the goalkeeper dived early.

But only a minute later, Huddersfield responded. A corner won from nothing, West Ham were loose marking their men in the box. Diop and Antonio both nowhere near Bacuna as he rose for a free header from Mooy’s corner and powered a header easily past Fabianski for what was only Huddersfield’s 16th goal of the season.

Neither side were making it difficult for the other side on the ball, and whilst each could pass nicely, you could see why both sides had only kept five clean sheets each this season.

That goal seemed to stun West Ham. They threatened very little for the next 15 minutes, with similar neat but ineffective play in the final third as the poor showing a weak before at Cardiff.

It emboldened Huddersfield too, who had been able to hit back so quickly and then play with freedom.

And it was the away side who struck next, on the half hour mark. A freekick from 30 yards was passed down the left flank with everyone else expecting a cross.

The angle was created for a driven ball into the box, one which missed everyone but Karlan Grant. Grant met it first time, placing it with his left foot and hitting the inside the side netting as Fabianski stood rooted to his spot.

Huddersfield were being given the platform to play by a West Ham side who again looked complacent against a relegation-threatened side.

The frontline were misfiring, Arnautovic working hard but looking rusty, Antonio all endeavour with little skill, Anderson drifting off wide quietly and Lanzini struggling to find a dangerous pass.

Yet it all nearly clicked as 45 minutes came up. One touch passing in the middle from Lanzini and then Anderson released Cresswell. Anderson and he combined again down the left before the Brazilian rolled it into the area for the left back to hit. Cresswell screamed for handball, but nothing was given and the Irons went in behind.

Having been booed off at half-time, Pellegrini looked to his bench. Hernandez came on for Antonio, pushing Lanzini wide left and Anderson wide right.

With two men up top, it did give the attacks a better impetus when the ball went central. Huddersfield dropped very deep too, the half starting with the Hammers in the ascendancy.

On occasion, Huddersfield could break two on two or three on three, with Bacuna forcing a fantastic save from distance on one occasion.

Trying to force the game, West Ham brought Nasri on for Noble. It didn’t improve much, with only one brief opening seeing Anderson create a chance for Arnautovic, but an awkward volley fell softly to the goalkeeper.

In desperately searching to turn around their one goal deficit, West Ham left themselves wide open with a defence that was anything but settled.

This point was proven on 65 minutes as Diop lunged out ahead of Karlan Grant 30 yards from goal to try and steal the ball. Grant turned him easily and took it on, driving towards the area. Ogbonna showed him onto his right foot and Grant accepted the invitation and fired from just outside the area into the top corner for an unlikely 3-1.

Lucas Perez replaced Arnautovic as Pellegrini’s response, and with his first touch, Perez had a chance to score. Anderson fed Zabaleta into the area and the right back cut it back to Perez. He could have shot first time, but took a touch when hit a poor shot from 8 yards, blocked.

Stankovic could have headed a fourth with a free header moments later, which must have been for fourth free header allowed from a corner in an awful West Ham defensive display.

But it was West Ham who got a goal from a corner after poor marking. Cresswell, who had worked hard all afternoon, bent a corner away from goal and it was Ogbonna rising highest. From at least 12 yards out, he powered a header down that beat the goalkeeper and had too much on it for the man in the line to stop.

It set things up for more of a dramatic finale with 15 minutes on the clock, with most expecting a dour end and another poor defeat.

And on 83 minutes, West Ham equalised.

A poor corner from Cresswell flew beyond everyone, but Nasri won the 50/50 on the right wing and then composed himself to whip in a deep cross. As everyone floundered under the ball, Javier Hernandez was backpost on his own. Stooping low, he headed the ball beyond Lössl and got the Hammers level with at least 10 minutes still to play and all the momentum behind the home side.

The swinging pendulum of this game swung back once more, but the equalising goal seemed only to awaken Huddersfield. And they should have put in a winner. Again from a poor corner, the ball was worked towards goal. Kongolo was fed in behind the back line and should have scored, instead curled into a spot where Fabianski could save. It fell back into danger, but Puncheon fired over the bar on the volley with the goal at his mercy from six yards out.

He lived to regret it.

With 5 minutes of stoppage time, West Ham got a corner. Lanzini played it short to Anderson. At the corner of the box on the left, he clipped a floaty ball in that Lössl came to claim.

But coming to claim and actually getting there are two very different things, and two things that were the difference between staying level and going behind.

As the goalkeeper flew out, Hernandez leapt up, flicking the ball on towards goal, over the flailing ‘keeper and into an empty net as West Ham turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead with minutes left to tick away.

Hernandez, much lamented for not doing enough outside the area, can produce these kind of moments. His header was directed, it was intentional, and it made the goalkeeper look foolish with his hands out like Superman.

The game wasn’t done. Fabianski was forced into a desperate save from a header spinning goalwards. The corner saw the most desperate defending, the ball bouncing and looping multiple times into the air, with Lössl causing issues in his opposite goalkeeper’s box.

It was enough, which describes just about what West Ham had done to win a game they arguably didn’t deserve to win.

The final whistle went to give three points Pellegrini would have expected at the start but never felt in control of.

In reality, it was a match that exposed more problems than showcased strengths, and possibly Pellegrini will be grateful to have two weeks off to work with much of his side over the international break.



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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Made some uncharacteristic errors, but probably couldn’t do much with the goals.


Pablo Zabaleta
Looked a little off the pace, whilst found poor passes forward more than he did good ones.


Aaron Cresswell
He’s now consistently good in every game. Basically played left wing, yet was the only defender who didn’t look lost in his duties. Threatened all afternoon and got an assist from the corner.


Issa Diop
Marked poorly, made poor errors of judgement and was easily outplayed by a striker who had been at Charlton only a couple of months ago.


Angelo Ogbonna
Struggled at the back as well, arguably not quite as much as Diop, but his headed goal was crucial in turning the game back.


Declan Rice
Not near his best, with some uncharacteristically sloppy passing at times.


Mark Noble
Passed comfortably throughout, a couple of gorgeous long balls forward, but replaced to give the side more attacking edge.


Felipe Anderson
Was not having a good game until he stepped up amidst the late chaos. Near the end, he really wanted the ball and wanted to make things happen - which he did for that late winner.


Manuel Lanzini
There were moments of inspiration, and he did often add some drive through the centre, but didn’t create enough. Did well to win the penalty though.


Michail Antonio
Probably a little unlucky to be withdrawn, but a team lacking guile was sometimes let down by the lack of finesse on offer with Michail.


Marko Arnautovic
He looked a little rusty, although whether Perez made any difference coming on is questionable. Tried hard, did often lead the press, but not a lot came off for West Ham until the last few moments and Marko wasn’t on.


Substitutes


Javier Hernandez
(Replaced Antonio) Unsure you could describe a situation where you’d want Hernandez more. His goals were just typical of what he’s good at, the definition of fox in the box. Credit for his attitude when he came on too, trying to raise the tempo and play quicker, snappier passes.


Samir Nasri
(Replaced Noble) As calm on the ball as ever, the cross he produced for Hernandez was inch perfect. Looked up on the ball for something decisive, which often the other midfielders didn’t.


Lucas Perez
(Replaced Arnautovic) Seemed a substitution for the sake of it, he didn’t do much wrong, his movement was fine, but his one moment of threat was wasted.


Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Did not play.


Arthur Masuaku
Did not play.


Fabien Balbuena
Did not play.


Robert Snodgrass
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 59,931.

Man of the Match: Javier Hernandez.

West Ham United

Lukasz Fabianski, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic.

Goals: Mark Noble 15 Angelo Ogbonna 75 Javier Hernandez 83 Javier Hernandez 90            .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Huddersfield Town

Lossl, Smith, Kongolo, Bacuna (Puncheon 70), Mooy, Lowe, Grant (Mounie 70), Pritchard, Stankovic, Durm, Rowe (Billing 55).

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: Hamer, Zanka, Hadergjonaj, Daly.

Goals: Bacuna (17), Grant (30, 65).

Booked: .

Sent Off: .

 
Chris Wilkerson's Man of the Match: Javier Hernandez


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