Aston Villa 1-3 West Ham United
Jesse Lingard struck a debut double as West Ham United bounced back from defeat to Liverpool in style, completing a league double over Aston Villa by winning 3-1 in the Midlands on Wednesday night.
The Hammers were in fine form at Villa Park, establishing a sturdy base at the back before showing their class at the other end with a devastating second half display.
Tomáš Souček and Lingard struck inside the first eleven minutes after the restart to give their team a platform they rarely looked like giving up, despite Ollie Watkins pulling one back nine minutes from time.
No matter, as Lingard was there to bag his second goal of the night, re-establish his team’s two-goal lead and ensure a seventh win from eight games in 2021.
David Moyes handed Lingard a debut from the start, and the Hammers’ new No11 was looking lively from the off, linking up nicely with Saïd Benrahma to ask the home side questions.
It was Lingard who forced Emiliano Martínez into the first serious save of the night, driving towards the Villa box after collecting possession from Benrahma in the 16th minute. With space opening up in front of him, Lingard let fly and the home keeper had to dive to his left to push away.
Benrahma, Vladimír Coufal and Antonio all drew regulation saves from Martínez, while Souček shot just wide during a first half in which the Hammers had ten shots to Villa’s three, but it was actually Dean Smith’s men who came closest to opening the scoring before the interval.
Their chance arrived through Watkins, who popped up in the left channel of the penalty box on 27 minutes, and looked to bend his shot inside the far post. Łukasz Fabiański could only stand and watch, so was mightily relieved to see the ball clip the outside of the upright and fly wide.
West Ham certainly edged proceedings in the first half though, then ensured they had the reward to show for it with a lightning-quick start to the second.
51 minutes were on the clock when they broke the deadlock through Souček, who else? The No28 bagged his eighth goal of the season with an authoritative finish, drilling low and hard across Martinez and into the bottom left corner after being teed up by Benrahma.
Five minutes later it got even better for the visitors. After turning the ball over in their own territory, they suddenly had a three-on-two break. Benrahma surged through the middle before nudging right to Antonio. He had Lingard in space, and found him perfectly, clipping over to the far side, where the No11 controlled and fired back towards the far post. Martinez got a hand on it, but not enough to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
West Ham still wanted more, and came so close to claiming it on 62 minutes when Aaron Cresswell knocked into space in the left channel, inviting Antonio to race onto the ball. He accepted with relish, beating Martinez to the punch and prodding over the goalkeeper, only for Tyrone Mings to get back and hook off the line.
The Hammers held Jack Grealish and the Villans at arm’s length right until the 81st minute, when the home side’s dangerman found the space to play a one-two with Watkins, with the striker showing his pace to get between Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson for the only time all night and finish.
West Ham quickly settled any nerves, though, re-establishing their two goal advantage less than two minutes later.
The irrepressible Lingard was the man to seal victory, lashing a shot beyond Martinez from the other side of the box to his first, after again being provided the opportunity by Antonio.
Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz (Sanson 80), McGinn, El Ghazi (Traoré 46), Barkley (Trézéguet 69), Grealish, Watkins
Subs: Heaton (GK), Engels, El Mohamady, Nakamba, Ramsey, Davis
Goal: Watkins 81
Booked: Douglas Luiz
West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Fredericks (Fornals 84), Rice, Souček, Lingard (Bowen 90+1), Benrahma (Johnson 88), Antonio
Subs: Martin (GK), Diop, Balbuena, Lanzini, Yarmolenko, Odubeko
Goals: Souček 51, Lingard 56, 83
Referee: Andy Madley