West Ham United 1 Burnley 0
Wednesday, 14th December 2016
by Staff Writer
It certainly wasn't pretty, but West Ham delivered three vital points on a nervy night in east London.And Mark Noble's winning goal - a rebound from his initially-saved penalty on the stroke of half time - pretty much summed up the event as a spectacle, a match in which neither side failed to offer any evidence that their current league positions are in anyway 'false'.
For Slaven Bilic and his team, the manner of the win - United's first in seven at the Olympic Stadium - was very much a secondary consideration to the points, which ease the pressure on the team ahead of a busy Christmas period.
And it was a victory West Ham probably deserved, even though Burnley will be rueing missing two or three golden opportunities in the second half to cancel out Noble's goal.
The first half was dominated by the Hammers, who saw both Noble and Pedro Obiang clatter the woodwork from distance and Aaron Cresswell denied by a point blank save from the Clarets' Tom Heaton.
However they had to wait until added-on time at the end of the half to open the scoring throughn Noble's half-hearted spot kick, which was stopped by Heaton but slammed home on the rebound by a grateful Irons captain.
Keen to preserve their advantage and avoid a repeat of last weekend's draw at Liverpool, West Ham were far more conservative after the break and were perhaps somewhat fortuitous to escape unpunished.
Scott Arfield's free-kick required a fantastic save from Darren Randoplh - kept in by Bilic despite erring at Anfield - to maintain United's slender lead, but Sam Vokes had no excuses when he nodded over from close range with the goal at his mercy in the closing stages.
That win - combined with favourable results elsehwere in tonight's full Premier League programme - lifts West Ham four points clear of the relegation zone and up to 15th place in the table, level on points with reigning Champions Leciester and a point behind tonight's opponents.
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Player RatingsDarren Randolph
Rarely called into action but more than capable when asked to do so. A nice easy start to the season for one of the RoI's Euro 16 heroes.
Looked accomplished at full back tonight, as he had very little defending to do. Sterner tests will follow for Antonio, as will the inevitable qeustions regarding his suitability for the role.
Sam endured a torried time in the first leg so it was pleasing to see him put in a solid performance tonight in an unfamiliar position.
Calm, assured and willing to put the boot in when required - just what you want from a centre half.
Another youngster to shine on the big night. The Ox was an able partner to the more experienced Reid but also capable of turning defence into attack with some delightful flighted dellveries.
Another player making his debut, the Norwegian had a fairly quiet first half but came alive in the second. He also showed some lovely footwork as the game reached its closing stages; another impressive start.
A classy performance from a very important player. Payet and Noble drew the plaudits last season but it was Kouyate that kept the midfield ticking over. Tonight he takes the acclaim for two goals that steered West Ham into the next round of the competition.
Solid and combative as per usual, his most notable contribution was the superb delivery for Feghouli's goal. Should be a shoo-in for Allarduce's next squad, at this rate.
The big man put himself about well and played an important role in both of Kouyate's goals. He still seems a little of the pace, thought that's not unusual at this stage of the season.
An impressive start for the winger, who may well have taken the Man of the Match award were it not for Kouyate's two-goal haul. He ran at Domzale's defence all night and was finally rewarded with a goal that sealed the win.
Whilst you can certainly question the ability, there can be no doubt that Valencia gave 100 per cent for West Ham tonight - the sort of attitude his former striker partner would do well to take note of.
Long linked with a move away from the club but given a positive reception upon his introduction by the crowd. Another who seems determined to work through his difficulties.
A nice little two-minute caneo to introduce him to the West Ham family.
See above, just for half the time...
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
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Match FactsWest Ham United: Darren Randolph, Michail Antonio, Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, Havard Nordtveit, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Mark Noble 48 0 0 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Arfield, Marney, Defour, Boyd (Barnes 76); Hendrick, Vokes.
Subs not used: Robinson, Flanagan, Kightly, Bamford, Defour, Tarkowski.
Booked: Mee (62), Hendrick (72).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Bobby Madley.
Man of the Match: Darren Randolph.