West Ham take step closer to Europe with win at West Brom

Baggies announce after game that Sam Allardyce would step down at end of the season

West Ham United’s Michail Antonio celebrates scoring their side’s third goal of the game during the Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. Photo: Molly Darlington/PA Wire

West Ham United’s Michail Antonio celebrates scoring their side’s third goal of the game during the Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. Photo: Molly Darlington/PA Wire

 

West Bromwich Albion 1 West Ham United 3

West Ham strode closer to Europe thanks to late goals by Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio. Tomas Soucek opened the scoring unintentionally, flicking a corner by Matheus Pereira into his own goal. But the Czech then led the comeback, equalising just before half-time. Both teams chased victory after that but West Ham landed the decisive blows, leaving West Brom with no reward for a vibrant performance, again. West Ham will reach Europe if they avoid defeat to Southampton on Sunday, while the Baggies announced after the game that head coach Sam Allardyce would step down at the end of the season.

The 6,000 fans spread across the Hawthorns were in festive mood, their spirits lifted by being allowed to return to the ground for the first time in over 14 months, even if it was just to wave at their team on the way down to the Championship. This might also have been a hello and goodbye to Sam Allardyce, who, by kick-off, had yet to reveal whether he will be West Brom’s manager beyond the end of the season.

By contrast, David Moyes is almost certain to stay in situ at West Ham, whose this season counts as a success despite the fact that the flirtation with Champions League qualification turned out to be illusory. No matter, West Ham are not too arrogant to strive for a place in a lesser European competition. They started with a rousing hunger – and that was enough to provoke West Brom into an all too familiar defensive mistake.

Just 36 seconds had elapsed when Semi Ajayi left a backpass short. Sam Johnstone rushed out to tidy up but was beaten to the ball by Antonio and wound up bringing down the striker. Declan Rice stepped up to mete out punishment but rammed the penalty against the base of a post. Trivia fans may have been tickled to learn that was the earliest spot-kick miss since the formation of the Premier League; home supporters just rejoiced at the welcome change of fortune for their largely luckless team.

Pereira, West Brom’s most regular source of joy this season, set about giving them cause for further glee but Darren Randolph saved his flicked header easily. Johnstone then rose to the more difficult challenge of tipping a swerving long-range shot by Saïd Benrahma over the bar.

The players seemed to enjoy themselves, with no trace of late-season fatigue as they hurtled from end to end. The hosts created the clearer chances. Pereira fired just wide from the edge of the area in the 21st minute.

Then the Brazilian produced something almost as improbable as the goal scored here for Liverpool on Sunday by his goalkeeping compatriot, Alisson. Pereira helped to give West Brom the lead by curling a corner in towards the near post; Soucek leapt to head clear but succeeded only in glancing it past his own goalkeeper.

Pereira would have doubled the hosts’ lead if not for an excellent save by Randolph, but then, in stoppage time at the end of the first half, Soucek drew his team level, tapping in at the back post after exquisite service from Benrahma.

Benrahma continued to deliver, feeding Pablo Fornals in the 49th minute. The Spaniard’s curler from the corner of the area flew inches wide. In keeping with the tit-for-tat pattern of the first period, West Brom were next to threaten, Randolph reacting sharply to smother the ball after Ajayi tried to poke it past him following a to-do in the area. Aaron Cresswell took Johnstone by surprise in the 65th minute by going for goal with a free-kick from 35 yards, the goalkeeper relieved to see it hit the outside of the post.

Johnstone denied Fornals in the 81st minute but West Brom could not hold out as, from the resultant corner, Ogbonna headed Cresswell’s delivery into the net from close range. Jesse Lingard, mostly quiet, sent Antonio through to complete the scoring two minutes from time.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.