Premier League
West Ham United 2-0 Aston Villa 

Tuesday, 2nd February 2016
by Staff Writer

West Ham's patience and persistence ultimately paid dividends against a rudderless Aston Villa at the Boleyn this afternoon as Slaven Bilic's team continued their march up the table with a comfortable 2-0 win.

And they were given a huge hand by the unfathomable stupidity of Villa's Jordan Ayew, who left his team with only ten men for nearly 80 minutes after receiving his marching orders for a vicious and cowardly elbow on Aaaron Cresswell.

Whilst the visitors - rooted to the bottom of the Premier League virtually all season and without a hope in hell of remaining in the Premier League beyond May - made it difficult initially for the Hammers, Ayew's dismissal ended any faint hopes Remi Garde's beleaguered squad had of staging an upset.

From that moment on it was like the Alamo as West Ham controlled all aspects of the game, albeit having waiting until the half time interval had passed before properly entering their stride.

VIlla - who still wouldn't have found the net even if Irons 'keeper Adrian had remained in Spain with his wife and new baby son - had what manager Garde later claimed was a good penalty claim early on when a cross struck the outstretched arm of Michail Antonio.

But he simply couldn't complain moments later when Ayew left his team a man shy following his spiteful attack on West Ham's left back, who thankfully showed no lasting effects.

A man up, West Ham created little of note initially although Enner Valencia should perhaps have scored from a close range header (albeit one that came to him in a instant for which he was ill-prepared).

But as the second half began to take shape, Villa sat ever deeper and West Ham's opener - from the excellent Antonio on 58 minutes - was the least they deserved reward. Man of the Match Mark Noble's deep cross was met by the head of the winger, who steered the ball into the opposing corner of Mark Bunn's net.

Although they continued to press and create chances, it wasn't until five minutes from time that West Ham finally wrapped the game up with a superb counter-attacking effort.

A Villa corner was cleared to the edge of the box from where an alert Dimitri Payet found Enner Valencia. His 50-yard sprint ended with a beautifully-weighted pass into the path of the supporting Cheik Kouyate, who waited until Bunn committed himself before lifting the ball into the roof of the net.

The three points ensure West Ham remain sixth in the Premier League, five points clear of seventh-places Southampton - who United face at St Mary's this coming weekend.

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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Adrian returned from celebrating the birth of his son Enzo for this one. West Ham could have had the little fella in goal and Villa still wouldn't have scored.

James Tomkins
Played much of the game as an ou-and-out winger as there was nothing to do from a dfensive perspective.

Aaron Cresswell
Got a sore nose from Ayew's cowardly attack but like TOmkins, spent much of the game in the opposition half.

James Collins
Seemed to enjoy playing against his old side. Popped up in Villa's box as frequently as his own on a very odd night.

Winston Reid
Okay but still feeling his way back after a recent injury.

Cheikhou Kouyate
Terrific work rate - none more so evident than when striding through to support Valencia for the killer second goal.

Alex Song
Kept it nice and simple although one or two passes went astray. Mysteriously lost his special glasses midway through the game.

Mark Noble
His best performance for some time. A great cross that led to the opening goal and a Scholes-esque effort from a corner that would have been one of the goals of the season had it not been met by a tremedous save from Bunn.

Michael Antonio
Scored the first with a fantastic header (which initially appeared to be a cross) and worked tirelessly to break down Villa.

Dimitri Payet
Quieter than in recent weeks but treated the fans to a few tricks once the second goal had ensured all three points were going to West Ham.

Enner Valencia
No goals for the in-form forward tonight but an assist for the second with a great counter-attacking run.


Victor Moses
(Replaced Valencia) Barely had time to make an impact, and didn't.

Nikica Jelavic
(Replaced Antonio) A brief farewell to the Boleyn perhaps, for the China-bound Croat.

Pedro Obiang
(Replaced Kouyate) Looked delighted at being asked to play the few seconds of injury time that remained following his introduction.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Stephen Hendrie
Did not play.

Josh Cullen
Did not play.

Djair Parfitt-Williams
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell, James Collins, Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate, Alex Song, Mark Noble, Michael Antonio, Dimitri Payet, Enner Valencia.

Goals: Michail Antonio 58 Cheikhou Kouyate 85                .

Booked: Alex Song 48          .

Sent off: None.

Aston Villa: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: n/a.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Attendance: 38,193.

Man of the Match: Mark Noble.