Saints Surrender As Hammers Boost Survival Hopes
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Apr 2018 13:53:00
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West Ham United ended March by beating Southampton 3-0 in a key game at the bottom of the Premier League on Saturday afternoon which gave them their first win since February and lifted them up to fourteenth in the table.

David Moyes made two changes from the team that were beaten by Burnley in their last league encounter, as Declan Rice came in for the injured James Collins, while Arthur Masuaku returned from his six-match suspension to fill in for Manuel Lanzini who picked up a knee injury on international duty.

The Hammers hadn't played a competitive match for three weeks and were desperate to make up for the disappointment of the defeat to the Clarets and although they were piling the pressure on the Saints from the first whistle, they suffered a major blow after just nine minutes when Michail Antonio went off injured, forcing the manager into an early change with Edimilson Fernandes replacing him.

Despite that setback, they continued to dominate and went ahead just four minutes later, as Cheikhou Kouyaté ran into space before playing the ball to João Mário who confidently beat Alex McCarthy bringing loud cheers from the majority inside the stadium.

West Ham were just two points above their opponents going into this game and their fans were celebrating again shortly after as Marko Arnautovic extended their advantage at the second time of asking, as McCarthy had made a superb save from his initial effort.

It wasn't great viewing for new Saints' boss Mark Hughes who'd also lost to the Irons when he was in charge of Stoke City back in December. It was to get worse for the Welshman before the break however, as five minutes of stoppage time were added due to the earlier injury. 

Deep into that, good combination play between Aaron Cresswell and Masuaku set up Arnautovic to double his tally and he superbly volleyed past a helpless McCarthy.

The home side went down the tunnel to huge applause and their fans were thinking that it could be a cricket score by the end if they were to carry on in the same vain.

Unfortunately, there were no more goals in the second-half, as the visitors set about trying to change matters but the Hammers were in no mood to let their hard work be undone.

Joe Hart was keeping Adrián out of the starting line-up but, in truth, the Manchester City loanee had nothing to do all afternoon as his defence were on their game with Angelo Ogbonna blocking efforts from both substitute Shane Long and Charlie Austin.

Having said that, the hosts still had chances of their own, as Mário went close to beating McCarthy again before he turned provider for Arnautovic to try and claim his hat-trick but the Austrian also failed to beat the former Crystal Palace stopper.

With 80 minutes gone, Moyes decided to make his second change of the afternoon as Arnautovic left the pitch to a standing ovation and was replaced by Jordan Hugill. 

Nine minutes later the final substitution was made, as the manager brought on Josh Cullen in place of Kouyaté.

West Ham went ever so close to making it four when Cresswell's thunderous shot had McCarthy beaten but unfortunately his dipping effort hit the top of the crossbar.

Referee Jonathan Moss blew the final whistle confirming a massive three points which edges the home side one step closer to safety.

Moyes will be hoping that his side can build on this by doing the double over Chelsea when they travel to Stamford Bridge next Sunday.

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