Hammers Deepen Gloom for Fulham
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 23 Feb 2019 14:48:00
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In recent seasons, West Ham United have not managed to do the double over many teams but on Friday night they achieved the feat for the first time this season by coming from behind to beat newly-promoted Fulham 3-1 in Stratford.

Ryan Fredericks was keen to retain his place in the side to play his former club but he was dropped to the bench in favour of Pablo Zabaleta in Manuel Pellegrini's only change to the team that faced Crystal Palace thirteen days earlier. No further alterations meant that Michail Antonio made his 100th appearance for the club. 

There were also some welcome boosts for the home side amongst the substitutes though, as both Manuel Lanzini and Samir Nasri were included in the squad after respective knee ligament and calf injuries. If Lanzini was to be involved, he would also reach the same milestone.

The Hammers went into the game desperate to claim only their second victory of 2019 but they didn't get off to the best of starts as Fulham missed a great chance to grab an early advantage inside 40 seconds.

Ryan Babel was quick to pounce on Zabaleta's poor backpass and he was through on goal but hesitated, allowing Lukasz Fabianski to come to his team's rescue.

Matters were about to get worse for West Ham as just over two minutes later, the Dutchman made amends for his error, as he was on the end of a cross from Ryan Sessegnon and the former Liverpool player had time and space to place his shot past Fabianski.

West Ham were really whipping in some dangerous corners and Issa Diop nearly found the net from a Robert Snodgrass delivery but his header went inches wide.

The home side are not usually known for scoring from corners but on this occasion another Snodgrass delivery was sent into the box on 29 minutes. A mistake from Cottagers' goalkeeper Sergio Rico was pounced upon by Javier Hernández who found the equaliser bringing huge relief to the home faithful. Replays seemed to suggest that the striker had handled the ball but to be fair to referee Lee Mason, it was difficult to judge.

The Irons had clearly worked out that corner kicks were a weakness for Claudio Ranieri's men and the pressure was on again when Snodgrass sent over another inviting delivery for Diop to head past Rico to claim his first Premier League goal for the club.

Despite a shaky start to proceedings, the Hammers managed to turn the game on its head going into the break, as they aimed to claim their first top-flight win since 12 January.

Zabaleta had sustained a back injury during the first 45 minutes and had to be replaced, meaning Fredericks finally got to face his old club, while the visitors made a double change by throwing on André-Frank Zambo Anguissa in place of Jean Michaël Seri. They also introduced Lazar Markovic, who entered the fray for Sessegnon.

Whilst Pellegrini's men had further chances to increase their lead, the visitors were also trying their hardest to get back into the game. Nothing was coming off for either team at this point so West Ham made another change in order to bring more creativity into their performance. The Chilean decided to send on Marko Arnautovic and withdraw Hernández.

Fredericks later produced a outstanding tackle to stop Aleksandar Mitrović from adding his name to the scoresheet.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued as both teams were pressurising one another but with the scoreline remaining the same after 76 minutes, the Irons' boss shuffled his pack again as Lanzini received loud cheers from the home end as he took the place of Felipe Anderson.

The Argentinian who was making his first appearance of the season and his 100th for West Ham was straight into the action. He linked up with Snodgrass to eventually set up Arnautovic who was denied by Rico, as the goalkeeper made a great save from the Austrian's headed effort.

The former Stoke City winger further impressed the home support when his scorching shot hit the post late on.

He wasn't finished there however, as he then turned provider with a cross which allowed Antonio to head past the helpless Rico.

The hosts would have been pleased to get the job done here as they knew they would face an uphill battle to get anything from Wednesday night's trip to Pellegrini's former club Manchester City.

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