Haller rocket gives Hammers victory at Sheffield United
Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham United
Sebastien Haller’s second half rocket fired West Ham United to all three points at Sheffield United on Sunday afternoon.
The Ivorian lashed a powerful drive high into Aaron Ramsdale’s net eleven minutes after the restart at Bramall Lane to give David Moyes’ men their second straight 1-0 victory either side of the international break.
After beating Fulham by that scoreline two weeks ago, the Hammers had to wait two weeks to build on that, but build on it they did with another resolute display that would have pleased their manager.
Sheffield United began the game with real energy and created the first chance of the contest with three minutes on the clock. John Egan’s ball over the top and into the right-hand channel set George Baldock clear. The angle was against him, however, and Lukasz Fabianski saved well with his feet at his near post.
It took the visitors ten minutes to settle and get on the ball, but once they did they began to dominate possession.
Still Sheffield United possessed a threat when they were allowed to break, and Fabianski had to be alert again on 24 minutes, thrusting a hand up to his right to repel Oli McBurnie’s fierce shot from 15 yards after the Blades turned the ball over on halfway and moved forward at pace.
At the other end, Vladimir Coufal forced Aaron Ramsdale into his first save of the afternoon three minutes later, looking to put the finishing touch to a move which took the ball from left to right through Arthur Masuaku, Haller and Jarrod Bowen. Ramsdale was equal to the effort, though, diving low to his right to push it aside.
West Ham’s best chance of the first half fell to Coufal’s countryman Tomas Soucek eleven minutes before the interval. The net looked set to bulge when Haller’s nod down from Pablo Fornals’ left wing cross found Soucek in space, but he was only able to knock wide of the near post.
Sheffield United’s threat was becoming more sporadic, but Fabianski had to dive high to his left to tip a McBurnie header over the top on 41 minutes, as the Blades reminded their visitors they were still very much in the contest.
David McGoldrick drew a simple stop from Fabianski with a low shot from range at the start of the second half, but it was at the other end that the decisive blow was landed with 56 minutes on the clock.
There was no stopping Haller, who seized on a loose ball after Fornals’ shot was blocked to unleash a 20-yard rocket, which brushed Ramsdale’s fingertips en route to the top right hand corner of the net.
Haller prodded wide of the near post as he looked to add a second shortly afterwards, while the Hammers were within a whisker of wrapping up the contest on 73 minutes, when Declan Rice rose highest to meet Aaron Cresswell’s left-wing corner with a powerful header which struck the top of the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the Hammers were breathing a sigh of relief when McBurnie burst onto Rhian Brewster’s through ball and fired a shot against the woodwork at the other end, but in truth that was the only real moment of alarm as the Hammers backline marshalled their hosts expertly to claim their second clean sheet in a row, the basis for another well-earned three points.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham (Lundstram 76), Egan, Fleck, Baldock, Norwood (Brewster 65), Ampadu (Robinson 62), Berge, Lowe, McBurnie, McGoldrick
Subs: Verrips, Burke, Jagielka, Osborn
West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku, Rice, Soucek, Bowen (Noble 90+2), Fornals (Lanzini 76), Haller
Subs: Randolph (GK), Johnson, Diop, Snodgrass, Benrahma
Goal: Haller 56
Referee: Martin Atkinson