Antonio's early strike settles Burnley contest
West Ham United 1-0 Burnley
Michail Antonio returned to the West Ham United Premier League starting eleven in style on Saturday afternoon, scoring the only goal of the game to send Burnley to defeat at London Stadium.
Antonio has worked his way back from a hamstring injury with substitute outings and a start at Stockport County in the FA Cup in recent weeks, and didn’t have to wait long to make his mark against the Clarets.
Just nine minutes were on the clock when the No30 stole in at the far post to convert Pablo Fornals’ cross and give the Hammers a third straight win.
Angelo Ogbonna, Antonio himself and Bowen all went close to adding a second before Burnley came on strongly at the end, when West Ham’s defensive players stood up to ensure the points would stay in east London.
West Ham made the perfect start, moving in front with nine minutes on the clock with their first meaningful attack.
It was a goal that showcased their front players’ abilities, too, Bowen making a darting run inside off the right flank to collect a through ball centrally and lay off to Pablo Fornals on the right.
He had the time necessary to take a touch before crossing towards the far post, where Antonio was stationed to see the ball drift over the defenders’ heads and knock home from close range.
The Hammers came into this contest having kept clean sheets in their past three matches, and that stinginess was in evidence again early on, although Burnley did have a goal ruled out for offside just past the half-hour. Chris Wood strayed offside before delivering a low cross which Aaron Cresswell turned into his own net under pressure from Ashley Barnes.
At the other end, the Hammers were a whisker away from adding to their advantage on 36 minutes, when Bowen delivered an inswinging corner to the near post. Declan Rice flicked-on and Ogbonna stooped to make contact, only for his header to strike Ben Mee’s outstretched boot and deflect off the post.
David Moyes’ men went close again at the start of the second period, with only a well-positioned Ben Mee preventing Michail Antonio’s header from a Vladimir Coufal cross from making it 2-0. The Clarets skipper got back behind his goalkeeper to block on the line and clear.
Declan Rice then cleared the crossbar, but only just, with a fiercely-struck free-kick from an acute angle, while Matthew Lowton needed to be alert to block from Pablo Fornals after Nick Pope batted a Said Benrahma cross back into danger, as West Ham kept the pressure on.
Bowen drilled a shot into the side-netting after being released by a superb crossfield ball from Rice on 69 minutes, but that second goal just would not come, giving Burnley a sniff going into the final stages.
With time running out they forced their best spell of the game and West Ham ended the contest on the back foot. A Dwight McNeil cross which glanced against the crossbar aside, though, Lukasz Fabianski had few moments of genuine alarm to navigate as, once again, the men in front of him provided a sturdy defensive barrier.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen (Yarmolenko 82), Benrahma (Lanzini 68), Fornals, Antonio
Subs: Randolph, Fredericks, Johnson, Diop, Alves, Noble, Odubeko
Goal: Antonio 9
Booked: Soucek, Ogbonna
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson (McNeil 46), Westwood, Brownhill, Brady, Wood (Rodriguez 72), Barnes (Vydra 63)
Subs: Norris, Bardsley, Long, Benson, Cork, Stephens
Referee: Chris Kavanagh