West Ham United 2-1 Aston Villa
West Ham United dug deep to claim their third straight Premier League victory on Monday evening, scoring at the start of both halves through Angelo Ogbonna and Jarrod Bowen to see off Aston Villa.
The Hammers were far from their best and were put on the back foot for long periods by their visitors, who had earlier levelled at 1-1 through Jack Grealish’s powerful effort.
Bowen’s header restored West Ham’s advantage just seconds after the second half had begun and they had to show their defensive mettle to hold on to the advantage.
Villa had their chances – big ones too – as Ollie Watkins missed from the spot 17 minutes from time, while the same player had a last-gasp goal ruled out for offside, as the Hammers clung on to claim their reward of fifth spot in the Premier League table.
West Ham came into the game in hot form and they didn’t have to wait long to move in front.
Tomas Soucek won a second minute corner when his shot was deflected behind, and Ogbonna did the rest, rising powerfully at the far post to plant a header from Bowen’s inswinging corner into the net.
The Hammers were looking to use their clear threat on the break, but Aston Villa responded well to the blow of falling behind so early and progressively worked their way back into the game.
Conor Hourihane warmed Lukasz Fabianski’s palms with a 25-yard free-kick after Aaron Cresswell clipped Trezeguet in a central position, but the Hammers’ No1 was left with no chance for the leveller on 25 minutes.
Grealish scored when the two teams met in July, but the Hammers had not needed their warning, backing off as he made his way deep into their territory with the ball. The Villa captain took the invitation to shoot, firing into the left-hand corner, with the help of a deflection.
It was the visitors who continued to pose the greater threat as the half wore on, Watkins stabbing an effort just past the post after being teed up by Trezeguet inside the box, while Hourihane wasn’t far off target with another free-kick.
The Hammers regrouped by making a couple of changes at the break, with Said Benrahma and Sebastien Haller stepping off the bench, and the switch had an instant impact.
Straight from the restart the Hammers worked it to the left hand side for Benrahma to shift the ball onto his right foot and swing over a delicious cross which Bowen deftly nodded beyond Emiliano Martinez.
It was almost a carbon copy from the start to the second period and it gave the home side the perfect platform for the second 45.
Villa refused to go away though and, just as in the first half, they pushed hard for a route back into the contest.
It should have come for them on 63 minutes when a swift break saw Watkins streak clear down the left and cross low for an unmarked Trezeguet. The net looked set to bulge, but Fabianski stood in the way to block.
Then, ten minutes later, Declan Rice had a hand on Trezeguet’s shirt as they tussled for a cross inside the box, and referee Peter Bankes awarded the visitors a spot kick.
Watkins stepped up and went for power from 12 yards, but misdirected his effort and smashed the top of the crossbar.
Villa heads did not drop and they continued to put the Hammers on the back foot.
They thought their reward had arrived in the first minute of stoppage time when Watkins finished from close range, following a cross from the left. A lengthy VAR check found him to be just offside, though, allowing the hosts to breathe a huge sigh of relief and celebrate all three points.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Coufal, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku (Benrahma 46), Bowen (Noble 79), Antonio (Haller 46), Fornals
Subs: Randolph, Johnson, Diop, Lanzini
Goals: Ogbonna 2, Bowen 46
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash (El Mohamady 88), Konsa, Mings, Targett, Hourihane (El Ghazi 74), Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Grealish, Trezeguet (Traore 74), Watkins
Subs: Steer, Taylor, Nakamba, Ramsey
Goal: Grealish 25
Referee: Peter Bankes