Haller's the Angel for West Ham at Vicarage Road
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 24 Aug 2019 22:01:00
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West Ham United's 100th Premier League away win brought their first success of the 2019/20 campaign. It also means that they have only lost two of their last fifteen games at Watford after they followed up last season's 4-1 triumph at Vicarage Road by coming away from Hertfordshire with a 3-1 victory.

Four changes were made from last weekend's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, as captain Mark Noble made his 350th top-flight appearance and a first of this campaign after returning from a thigh strain, while Felipe Anderson and Sébastien Haller were restored to the starting line-up after recovering from minor injuries which kept them out of the match against the Seagulls.

Andriy Yarmolenko made his first start since last October, as Javier Hernández was suffering with a knee injury. 

Jack Wilshire and Robert Snodgrass were left out of the squad completely, while Michail Antonio again started on the bench.

The match couldn't have started any better for the Irons who were awarded a penalty within three minutes of the action getting underway. Manuel Lanzini was tripped by Hornets' defender Abdoulaye Doucouré.

Noble, who scored twice here in May made no mistake as he beat goalkeeper Ben Foster with ease.

After conceding so early, the hosts needed a quick response and to their credit, they were inches away from finding just that as Andre Gray set Gerard Deulofeu away. It would have been easier for him to score but fortunately for the Hammers, he somehow missed and the visitors'advantage was still intact.

The action was still swinging from end-to end as the man who won the penalty, Lanzini could have added a second but he couldn't hit the target, while Issa Diop produced a vital block to deny the dangerous Deulofeu.

As I mentioned in my preview to this game, the home side were yet to score coming into this encounter but given West Ham's defensive record so far, you wouldn't have bet against and with seventeen minutes gone, Hammers' stopper Lukasz Fabianski was beaten, as Will Hughes played in Gray and the striker equalised, giving the Pole no chance.

The frantic nature of the game didn't stop there as Haller tried to pull off the spectacular but it didn't come off for him as Foster matched his effort to keep the Frenchman's effort out, while Angelo Ogbonna's header went over the top.

Both sides then tried to exert their authority on the game before the break. Watford went close with efforts from both Tom Cleverly and Gray, whilst Foster was nearly beaten for a second time when Anderson met a Lanzini corner but his header hit the post.

The two sides deserved to take a breather and were glad to hear referee Christopher Kavanagh's whistle with the score remaining level.

Manuel Pellegrini's side almost made an identical start to the second-half when Yarmolenko tested Foster with a curling effort which the former England goalkeeper struggled to deal with as he initially only palmed it away before making a more convincing claim at the second attempt.

The Hornets missed a golden chance, courtesy of Hughes; he only had to hit the target but you would fail to explain how he missed it, despite Deulofeu having done all the hard work.

Pellegrini then replaced Yarmolenko with Antonio on 55 minutes. Although the former Nottingham Forest man was struggling to get into a rhythm, he eventually made an impact.

A great team move which started with Arthur Masuaku managing to evade two challenges, was ended by Anderson setting up Haller for the easiest of finishes past Foster.

On 78 minutes Anderson was replaced by Pablo Fornals.

Haller quickly added to his tally for the afternoon. Foster dealt with a diving header from Antonio. Then, after two successive corners, the Frenchman nipped in after Antonio's second bite at the cherry was tipped onto the bar.

In the closing stages of the game, Carlos Sánchez was introduced in place of Lanzini before stoppage time was negotiated and the travelling support were able to celebrate a first win since their last visit to Vicarage Road.

The Hammers are back in action on Tuesday night when they begin their Carabao Cup campaign against Newport County.

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