Analysis: How West Ham's final-fifth performance tamed the Terriers
Saturday’s dramatic, thrilling, rollercoaster 4-3 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town was not so much a game of two halves, but a game of four-fifths and one-fifth.
After 72 of the 90 minutes, West Ham United trailed 3-1, had created just two shots on target and looked on course for their first home defeat of 2019.
However, 20-odd minutes later, the Hammers had won 4-3, netted with all three shots on target they created – all of them headers – and kept their unbeaten record at London Stadium this calendar year intact.
Chicharito took the headlines, converting both of his goal attempts with outstanding headers, first levelling matters with a diving effort from Samir Nasri’s cross with six minutes remaining, then using all his experience to glance Felipe Anderson’s diagonal ball past goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in the first minute of added time.
Those goals took the Mexican to 19 scored after being introduced as a substitute in the Premier League – five short of Jermain Defoe’s record of 24.
Nasri and Felipe Anderson were both vital figures in the comeback, too.
The Frenchman, who had been introduced with West Ham trailing 2-1 with 32 minutes to play, showed all the class, composure and technical prowess that made him a two-time Premier League title winner with Manchester City and a regular in one of the best national teams in the world.
Of the 39 passes the 31-year-old attempted, all 39 reached their intended target – 32 of them inside the Huddersfield half – including the outstanding centre he provided for the first of Chicharito’s two goals.
Nasri’s outstanding close control in tight, pressure situations meant he was not disposed once, either, despite touching the ball 45 times. To his credit, the No18 also won the ball back three times for his side as West Ham went in search of goals in that frantic final quarter-of-an-hour.
For Felipe Anderson’s part, despite the Hammers’ early struggles, he never stopped working for this team or looking for openings in the massed ranks of the Huddersfield defence.
Nobody on the pitch made more sprints than the Brazilian’s 21, while only Angelo Ogbonna (93) touched the ball more times than the No8’s 90.
The three most-important touches the South American took all game came in the first minute of added time, when he controlled Aaron Cresswell’s short corner, teed himself up and clipped a perfectly-weighted cross for Chicharito to glance past Lossl and into the net, sparking wild celebrations in the London Stadium stands.
Left-back Cresswell’s role in West Ham’s renaissance should not be understated, too.
The England international touched the ball 88 times, provided the assist for Angelo Ogbonna’s 75th-minute header, which served as the catalyst for the comeback, completed 87 per cent of his 62 passes, won three tackles, made four clearances and even ventured forward far enough to unleash three shots of his own.
Earlier – much earlier – Mark Noble became only the third player to score 40 Premier League goals for West Ham after Paolo Di Canio (47) and Carlton Cole (41) when he put the hosts in front on 15 minutes.
When that penalty, won by Manuel Lanzini, flew past Lossl, nobody inside London Stadium, or anywhere for that matter, could have forecast the scarcely believable drama that would follow.