Haller and Noble fire Irons to thrilling 3-1 win at Watford
Sebastien Haller’s first two competitive goals for West Ham United saw the Irons secure a thrilling 3-1 victory away to Watford.
On an afternoon where the Hammers celebrated the 15th anniversary of Mark Noble’s first appearance for the Club. It was the captain who gave the Irons the lead on his return from injury, converting from the penalty spot after just three minutes.
Andre Gray levelled for Watford in the first period with a powerful strike, while both sets of supporters were thoroughly entertained as both sides went on the attack throughout.
Haller grabbed his first just after an hour, completing a terrific team move, before superbly netting a second with an overhead strike to secure a first win of the 2019/20 campaign for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham and a 100th Premier League away victory in the Club's history.
An end-to-end, frantic first half started perfectly for West Ham. Wonderful combination play by Sebastien Haller and Manuel Lanzini led to the Argentinian receiving the ball in the penalty area. He skipped past two defenders and was tripped by Abdoulaye Doucoure, meaning the Irons had a penalty.
With just over minutes on the clock, up stepped the captain. On the 15th anniversary of his senior debut for the Irons, Noble made no mistake, sending Ben Foster the wrong way and giving the Irons the early advantage.
Those initial stages were the opening chapter in what would be a manic opening period. Just a few moments later, Watford hit the post as Andre Gray found Gerard Deulofeu, with the Spaniard’s effort from a tight angle clipping the outside of the crossbar.
With that, West Ham could have had a second, with Lanzini sending a spinning effort narrowly wide, before Issa Diop made a vital block to deny Deulofeu again.
With 17 minutes on the clock, Watford levelled. Will Hughes found Gray in space and the striker made no mistake, powering home across goal to give the Hornets a path back into the match.
Chances kept falling for both sides. Haller attempted what can only be described as a very acrobatic overhead back-heel, that goalkeeper Foster palmed away, while Angelo Ogbonna saw a header go just over the bar.
Watford continued to press too, going close through Tom Cleverley and Gray again, while Felipe Anderson had a header from a Lanzini corner agonisingly bounce back from the lowest point of the far post.
West Ham almost got a second moments after the restart as Yarmolenko curled an effort on goal from around 25 yards, which Foster could only claw away and had to claim on the second attempt. Watford then saw arguably the miss of the game fall their way, as Will Hughes somehow, inexplicably, put an effort wide of the far post from just one yard out after Deulofeu had gone around Lukasz Fabianski.
Michail Antonio’s introduction on 55 minutes turned the game in West Ham’s favour as the No30’s power and pace proved too difficult for Watford. The attacker was immediately a threat and, on 64 minutes the Irons took the advantage.
It was beautiful football that led to Haller’s first Premier League goal for West Ham. Arthur Masuaku won the ball on the left, saw off two challenges and threaded the play into the forward. Haller would then combine with Anderson, allowing the Brazilian plenty of time to pick him out inside the area with a cutting pass, with the No22 tucking home from close range.
If Haller’s first was because of beautiful flowing teamwork, the second was all down to him.
After Antonio had seen a diving header miraculously saved by Foster, West Ham had a corner. Again, Foster palmed away an Antonio header, this time onto the woodwork, and Haller reacted fasted to get into position and score his second with a stunning overhead effort.
Haller's brace secured the match for the Hammers, who walked away deserved winners after a professional second half showing, as the side claimed a first win of the campaign.
Watford: Foster; Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue (c), Cleverley (Quina 86), Hughes (Sarr 74); Deulofeu (Welbeck 74), Gray
Subs not used: Gomes, Janmaat, Chalobah, Kabasele
Goals: Gray 17
West Ham United: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Rice, Noble (c), Yarmolenko (Antonio 55), Lanzini (Sanchez 88), F. Anderson (Fornals 78); Haller
Subs not used: Roberto, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ajeti
Goals: Noble (p) 3, Haller 64 73