Southampton 0-1 West Ham Utd

  • by Staff Writer
  • Saturday, 14th December 2019

West Ham returned to winning ways with a thoroughly deserved victory at St Mary's after Manuel Pellegrini finally decided to play a two-man attack.

Fans have clamoured for the under-pressure manager to play big summer signing Sebastian Haller alongside an attacking partner for some considerable weeks.

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And the decision to do so today caught Southampton unaware and helped the Hammers to a much-needed victory in what was their final game before Christmas.

Even though there was ultimately just one goal between the teams, the Hammers could - and should have won be a greater margin.

West Ham almost certainly should've been awarded a penalty midway through the first half when both Michail Antonio and Sebastan Haller were impeded in the penalty box as they attempted to attack a cross.

Yet to the utter dismay of both players, a VAR check determined that neither challenge - of which one, on Antonio, more closely resembled an assault - was worthy of punishment and the game was allowed to continue.

Fortunately the Hammers - who'd already been on the wrong end of a couple of dodgy decisions prior to that moment - didn't have to wait long before eventually opening the scoring through Haller, who last registered in the 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace at the beginning of October more than two months ago.

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Great determination by Antonio saw the forward burst towards the byeline from where a reverse pass found Mark Noble, who chopped the ball towards the back post. Pablo Fornals cleverly laid the ball back into the path of the big French striker, who failed to catch the ball cleanly but whose shot was just too well-placed for Alex McCarthy to reach.

Antonio - who produced one of the best individual performances by a Hammer at any stage this season - thought he'd doubled West Ham's lead seven minutes into the second half when he found the net with a great strike from outside the box.

However West Ham found themselves on the wrong side of a VAR decision for a second occasion when the effort was ruled out for hand ball, as replays showed the ball brushed Antonio's hand in the build-up to the goal.

Southampton, who changed their shape at half time having been caught unaware by Pellegrini's tactical switch were slightly more threatening in the second half, but the closest they came to levelling came when Danny Ings struck the underside of the crossbar from distance with 20 minutes of normal time remaining.

As a result Pellegrini, who it has been claimed might face the sack had his team fallen to defeat, can breathe easily for another fortnight at least - with West Ham not in action again until after Christmas.

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West Ham Utd: Martin, Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble (Diop 88), Snodgrass (Yarmolenko 73), Fornals, Antonio, Haller (Sanchez 79).

Subs not used: Roberto, Zabaleta, Masuaku, Ajeti.

Goals: Haller (37).

Booked: Snodgrass, Fredericks, Martin.

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric (Adams 87), Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Hojbjerg, Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Redmond (Romeu 46), Long (Armstrong 84), Ings.

Subs not used: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Obafemi.

Booked: Hojbjerg.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

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