Saints fall to defeat in the capital

By SFC Media time Sat 29 Feb West Ham v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Stuart Armstrong
Sat 29 Feb 3PM
Premier League
West Ham United
Bowen [15'] Haller [40'] Antonio [54']
Obafemi [31']
Cresswell (65')
yellow card
Stephens (45+1')
Referee: Anthony Taylor | Venue: London Stadium | Attendance: 59,962

Southampton came unstuck at the London Stadium for the third season running, as West Ham climbed out of the Premier League drop zone with three goals and three vital points.

Michael Obafemi cancelled out Jarrod Bowen’s opener, but Saints found themselves behind at the break as Sébastien Haller restored the Hammers’ lead from a tight angle.

Ralph Hasenhüttl introduced top scorer Danny Ings as a second-half substitute, but Michail Antonio instantly increased the hosts’ advantage, and there was no way back.

In an ideal world, manager Hasenhüttl may have wished to name an unchanged side following the 2-0 home win over Aston Villa last time out – a dominant display in which his team registered 28 attempts at goal.

But Moussa Djenepo was absent for personal reasons and Ings only deemed fit enough for the bench, so Sofiane Boufal and Obafemi stepped in.

There was early concern for Hasenhüttl, as Stuart Armstrong took a bang on the head just seconds after kick-off, clashing with Aaron Cresswell under a high ball, but the Scot was fine to continue.

Otherwise it was a bright start from Saints, who were worrying West Ham with their high press and the hosts looked nervous, particularly when goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was presented with an awkward backpass under pressure from Shane Long.

But the visitors were nearly caught from their own corner, as Antonio led a quick counter, and only the retreating James Ward-Prowse – who covered some serious yardage having taken the set-piece himself – denied Bowen a route to goal.

The winger’s moment was soon to arrive. Ward-Prowse’s clipped ball downfield was intercepted by Declan Rice, who found Pablo Fornals, who threaded the perfect pass for Bowen, leaving the home debutant to clip a clever dink over the advancing Alex McCarthy.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Sofiane Boufal of Southampton during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Southampton FC at London Stadium on February 29, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Sofiane Boufal started on the left flank as one of two Saints changes

It remained an open game, with both sides full of pace in attack. After Jan Bednarek stuck manfully to his task against Antonio’s fearsome athleticism, Saints struck back with a fine team goal.

As Armstrong carried the ball deep into Hammers territory, the tireless Ward-Prowse raced beyond him in support and picked out Obafemi with a precise cutback.

The youngster still had a lot to do, but guided a perfectly-placed shot high to Fabianski’s right and into the top corner to finish off a sharp Saints counter.

Parity would last just nine minutes, as a helter-skelter half took another twist. Again Antonio was at the heart of West Ham’s attacking threat, but this time his looping cross looked easy enough for McCarthy to collect.

Instead it was Haller, who rose beyond the goalkeeper to head the ball into the air, and slid in to score as it dropped – an accomplished finish from a tight angle that was just reward for not giving up on such an innocuous delivery.

Though disappointed to be trailing at the interval, there was nothing to suggest there were not more goals in the offing for Hasenhüttl’s men.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Michael Obafemi(L) of Southampton after scoring, with team mate James Ward-Prowse during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Southampton FC at London Stadium on February 29, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse congratulates Michael Obafemi on levelling the scores

Straightaway Ryan Bertrand exposed the vulnerable hosts with not one but two excellent crosses that flashed along the six-yard line untouched – the sort of balls from which Ings would thrive.

Perhaps the boss was thinking the same, because moments later his top scorer was stripped and ready to come on.

No sooner had he done so, his team found themselves 3-1 down, as Antonio raced through unopposed to slot a composed finish past McCarthy, who stood no chance this time.

West Ham tails were up. So too was Haller’s confidence, as the Frenchman sent Antonio racing clear once again with a rabona pass, but on this occasion the Saints keeper would not be beaten, and spread himself well to make an important save.

With Ings having replaced Boufal, another tactical switch arrived midway through the second half when Jannik Vestergaard was summoned in place of goalscorer Obafemi, as Hasenhüttl adjusted to 3-5-2.

But a low shot from Bertrand smothered by Fabianski and another one from Ings deflected behind for a corner were as close as Saints came to setting up a dramatic finale.

West Ham United

Head to Head Stats

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West Ham United

Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Angelo Ogbonna
Issa Diop
Aaron Cresswell yellow card
Jeremy Ngakia
Declan Rice
Jarrod Bowen goal
replace Robert Snodgrass (78′)
Mark Noble (C)
Pablo Fornals
replace Felipe Anderson (92′)
Sébastien Haller goal
Michail Antonio goal
Darren Randolph
Felipe Anderson
Pablo Zabaleta
Arthur Masuaku
Manuel Lanzini
Fabián Balbuena
Robert Snodgrass


Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jan Bednarek
Ryan Bertrand
James Ward-Prowse
Jack Stephens yellow card
William Smallbone
replace Oriol Romeu (78′)
Stuart Armstrong
Sofiane Boufal
replace Danny Ings (54′)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Shane Long
Michael Obafemi goal
replace Jannik Vestergaard (68′)
Jannik Vestergaard
Angus Gunn
Kyle Walker-Peters
Oriol Romeu
Che Adams
Danny Ings
Yan Valery
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