Another Three Goal Victory For Hammers
By Tom Dowsett
Wednesday 05 Dec 2018 14:36:00
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West Ham United secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season on Tuesday night after they followed up their 3-0 win at Newcastle United with a 3-1 victory over newly-promoted Cardiff City in Stratford.

Aaron Cresswell failed a fitness test on the hamstring injury he picked up at St James' Park on Saturday, meaning Manuel Pellegrini restored Arthur Masuaku to the starting line-up in his place. 

Fabián Balbuena was also injured at the weekend but was fit enough to take his place on the bench, while Pablo Zabaleta was also amongst the substitutes, as Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio were the other changes.

Looking to carry on from where they had left off on Saturday, the home side were desperate to find an early goal and they nearly got it with only six minutes played. Antonio sent a header towards goal but the Bluebirds' defence cleared the danger.

Minutes later, a great team move almost gave Robert Snodgrass the chance to open the scoring but again, the visitors stood firm.

Although Cardiff had one extra day to prepare for this game, the confidence that the Hammers gained from the victory on Tyneside was still in evidence here and it showed when Felipe Anderson linked up with Marko Arnautovic but unfortunately, the frontman took a heavy touch and it was easy for visiting goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to handle.

The Irons kept coming though and went close through headers from both Ogbonna and Declan Rice minutes later, following a succession of corner kicks.

Then came the moment that could have changed the course of the game on 35 minutes. Referee Graham Scott gave the visitors a penalty after Arnautovic had committed a risky foul just inside the area. The home faithful disagreed, as they thought that the challenge was made outside of the box.

There were boos for Joe Ralls as he stepped up but thankfully for the home faithful, Lukasz Fabianski made a superb save and the scores remained level.

Arnautovic has been playing through the pain barrier in recent months and he now looks likely to spend a lengthy period of time on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring problem. This meant that Pellegrini had to turn to his bench early with Lucas Pérez replacing the Austrian.

The stadium was then given a lift, providing West Ham with huge encouragement as the clock ticked towards half-time but unfortunately, they couldn't quite force the ball home despite going close on a number of occasions before Graham Scott blew the whistle.

Nevertheless, Pellegrini's men weren't going to give up and came out for the second-half all guns blazing.

Pérez had claimed his first two goals for the club in the emphatic 8-0 Carabao Cup victory over Macclesfield Town back in September and he added his first league strike for the club on 49 minutes.

Some defensive indecision meant the ball found its way to Snodgrass who then played in the deadline day signing from Arsenal and the Spaniard made no mistake, as he fired an unstoppable shot into the net giving Etheridge no chance.

Like his goals against the Silkmen, they weren't too far apart and he, together with the majority inside the stadium were celebrating again on 55 minutes.

Captain Mark Noble and Masuaku combined and a great pass from the defender found the former Gunners' striker and he expertly slotted the ball through the legs of Etheridge to have the home crowd cheering again.

With just under half an hour remaining, the hosts sealed the points when they were awarded a corner. Snodgrass took the kick which was then headed on and into the net by Antonio.

As if the West Ham fans weren't enjoying their night's entertainment enough already, there was more excitement, as Andy Carroll entered the fray in place of Javier Hernández. In so doing, he made his 200th appearance for the Hammers.

The East Londoners had chances to make the scoreline look a more handsome one but they were unable to convert another chance. That being said, they should have perhaps made more of the effort just after Grady Diangana had been introduced for Snodgrass.

The youngster took a corner which landed at the feet of Declan Rice. Rice then tried to add his name to the scoresheet when he shot across goal. However, West Ham kept the move alive, as Diangana set up Ogbonna but the Italian's effort was well dealt with.

Diangana made a real impression when he came on and he went close with an effort of his own in the closing stages but his shot went inches wide.

Just as the Irons thought they would earn consecutive clean sheets, Neil Warnock's side found a way past Fabianski. In the last minute of stoppage time, Josh Murphy scrambled the ball home to at least give the travelling support something to remember from their trip to East London.

The home side will want to end their week on a high by claiming another three points when Crystal Palace arrive in Stratford for a London derby on Saturday afternoon.

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