Southampton 1 West Ham 2
Southampton supporters arrived in hope of witnessing the third successive Premier League win that would have given them some breathing space in the scrap for survival, but departed lamenting an all too familiar feeling as the outstanding Felipe Anderson brought their revival under Ralph Hasenhüttl to an abrupt halt.
Nathan Redmond had put Southampton ahead early in the second half but that lead lasted for only 168 seconds as West Ham turned the game on its head. Felipe Anderson, who scored only once in his opening 10 Premier League games, has been making up for lost time since.
The Brazilian hauled West Ham level with a terrific shot from just outside the area and then made it seven goals in his last nine matches with a splendid winner. Signed in the summer for a club-record £36m, Anderson looks like the best piece of business West Ham have done for a long time. How Southampton, who remain only three points above the bottom three, could do with someone with his class.
There had been a feeling beforehand that this was a good time for Southampton to face West Ham, who were plagued by injuries. Manuel Pellegrini was without 10 senior players, with Javier Hernández, Fabián Balbuena and Pablo Zabaleta the latest additions to a long list of absentees. As a result the West Ham manager was forced to play square pegs in round holes – Michail Antonio was deployed at right-back – and able to name only six substitutes.
Despite all of that it was West Ham who looked the more accomplished side for much of the opening 45 minutes. The visitors should have been ahead, too, but Lucas Pérez, who supplanted Hernández in attack as West Ham's lone striker, squandered a gilt-edged chance midway through the first half following a raid down Southampton's right flank, where Yan Valery, the wing-back, was often outnumbered.
Felipe Anderson fed the overlapping Aaron Cresswell and the left-back had the presence of mind to look up and pick out Pérez, who was totally unmarked and no more than 12 yards out. A goal beckoned but the Spaniard snatched at the opportunity, with his connection so poor that he failed even to force Alex McCarthy into a save as he dragged a left-foot shot horribly wide. The anguished expression on Pérez's face afterwards said it all.
Southampton had actually started brightly. The match was less than three minutes old when Danny Ings, linking neatly with Stuart Armstrong in the inside-left channel, darted into the penalty area before wriggling in between Angelo Ogbonna and Antonio. The angle was against Ings, however, and he could only stab the ball into the side-netting.
Nathan Redmond had already seen a 22-yard shot saved by Lukasz Fabianski and in those early stages it looked as though Southampton were in the mood to take the game to West Ham. If that was the plan, it never materialised for the rest of the half as West Ham, with Declan Rice increasingly influential in the centre of the pitch, were dominating possession.
The one missing ingredient for West Ham in that period was the final ball, although Cresswell did deliver another superb centre that was begging to be touched home. Robert Snodgrass, twisting and turning on the edge of the Southampton area, thumped a shot wide at the end of the first half and that was about as good as it got after that Pérez opening.
Everything changed after the restart, though, as the game exploded into life with a goal that was the definition of scrappy. Lukasz Fabianski initially denied both Redmond and Oriol Romeu but the Southampton winger still managed to bundle the ball over the line, under pressure from Ogbonna, with what looked like his forearm.
West Ham complained bitterly that Redmond was offside when he had his initial effort but replays showed that Antonio played him on.
West Ham’s response, and Felipe Anderson’s in particular, was stunning. The visitors were level within three minutes when Felipe Anderson dispatched Maya Yoshida’s attempted clearance with a superb right-footed shot that arrowed inside McCarthy’s near post. The game was now stretched as both teams chased victory. Armstrong forced Fabianski into a fine save and it was from the corner that followed that West Ham broke away to score their second.
Antonio, driving from deep, fed a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Felipe Anderson, who took a couple of touches to steady himself before sweeping a lovely rising right-footed shot across McCarthy and into the far corner. Pérez, set up by Felipe Anderson, came close to making it 3-1 only for Jannik Vestergaard to make a brilliantly-timed block.
Southampton still had some life in them and Mario Lemina, released by Redmond, came agonisingly close to scoring an equaliser with an angled shot that Fabianski did well to keep out. At the other end Felipe Anderson was desperately unlucky not to complete his hat-trick.