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West Ham 2-3 Southampton: Visitors win their first Premier League match in SEVEN

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Southampton let their lead slip once, then twice but not thrice as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side finally saw out this win, deepening West Ham’s woes amid a worrying run of form.

There isn’t a Premier League club that have dropped as many points from winning positions since Hasenhuttl took charge three years ago this month. That currently stands at 73, though they seriously flirted with adding to that total here.

West Ham tried to send Southampton home with that familiar feeling but ultimately had no answer at the third time of asking after spending most of this match playing catch-up. 

Jan Bednarek was Southampton's hero as they edged past West Ham 3-2 on Boxing Day

Jan Bednarek was Southampton’s hero as they edged past West Ham 3-2 on Boxing Day

Bednarek glanced home Southampton's winner from a free-kick on 70 minutes to make it 3-2

Bednarek glanced home Southampton’s winner from a free-kick on 70 minutes to make it 3-2

Bednarek watches on as his header flies past Polish compatriot Lukasz Fabianski (right) in goal

Bednarek watches on as his header flies past Polish compatriot Lukasz Fabianski (right) in goal

Sensing there would be boos at full time – as there were at half time when they walked in trailing 1-0 – the London Stadium’s DJ pressed play on Foo Fighters’ Learn To Fly as soon as the whistle went. West Ham have now won only one of their last seven fixtures and never led here.

When Mohamed Elyounoussi gave Southampton the lead with a fine finish, Michail Antonio equalised with a header. When James Ward-Prowse scored a penalty, Said Benrahma buried a cross. In the end, it was Jan Bednarek who bagged the winner with no answer from West Ham.

Manager David Moyes wore a face of fury. It’s been a good 2021 for West Ham – one of European away days and a high position in the Premier League – but they’re ending the year in bother.

Listed as the 12th player in West Ham’s team was Isla Caton. She is the seven-year-old who, since the age of two, has been battling stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer. Her family recently revealed that treatment is no longer working on little Isla and that they are now concentrating on ensuring she can extract as much happiness out of this life as possible. A JustGiving page is nearing £100,000, with West Ham’s new shareholder Daniel Kretinsky donating £10,000.

The atmosphere inside of the London Stadium felt flat at kick off with thousands of empty seats. Some perhaps belonged to supporters who did not wish to chance the heightened Covid-19 risk. Others to those who simply had no way of getting to Stratford with Boxing Day transport incredibly limited, including zero trains from Essex and Kent.

Within eight minutes, those who did manage to make it watched Southampton take the lead.

West Ham were disappointed at being undone by such a straightforward move. It started with Elyounoussi playing a pass out wide to Kyle Walker-Peters, who cut inside and returned the favour. Elyounoussi controlled the ball with his right foot then snatched a shot with his left, and it flew into the bottom corner beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

Southampton’s supporters, having seen their side secure one Premier League away victory all season, sang that obligatory song: ‘How s*** must you be? We’re winning away.’

Mohamed Elyounoussi fired Southampton ahead on eight minutes at the London Stadium

Mohamed Elyounoussi fired Southampton ahead on eight minutes at the London Stadium

Teed up by Kyle Walker-Peters, Elyounoussi blasted the Saints in front with this left-footed shot

Teed up by Kyle Walker-Peters, Elyounoussi blasted the Saints in front with this left-footed shot

West Ham equalised when Michail Antonio (centre right) headed home just after half-time

West Ham equalised when Michail Antonio (centre right) headed home just after half-time

Antonio (centre left) wheels away in celebration after scoring just minutes after coming on

Antonio (centre left) wheels away in celebration after scoring just minutes after coming on

Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster fancied playing the pantomime villain. Taking a goal-kick in the 14th minute, he took an age. The time-wasting tactics were already in full flow.

After 33 minutes, Elyounoussi fired a shot from the edge of the box directly at Fabianski. Another volley from Nathan Remind – tidy in his technique – sailed into the goalkeeper’s arms also.

Declan Rice hacked down Armando Broja to earn himself a yellow card. It was his fifth of the season, meaning he will miss their next game against Watford.

In the 39th minute, Bednarek tried to switch play from right to left but instead gifted possession to Nikola Vlasic. He drove at Southampton’s goal and his shot was bound for the bottom-right corner until a strong hand from the diving Forster sent it wide.

The half-time whistle from Kevin Friend was greeted by boos. West Ham had been on a sticky run, winning only one of their last six games. That would become one in seven if they didn’t wake up.

Southampton were awarded a penalty when Elyounoussi was fouled by Craig Dawson

Southampton were awarded a penalty when Elyounoussi was fouled by Craig Dawson

Set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse made no mistake from the spot to restore Saints' lead

Set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse made no mistake from the spot to restore Saints’ lead

Moyes responded to that disappointing first 45 minutes with a double substitution: Antonio for Vlasic, and Manuel Lanzini for Pablo Fornals. It was Antonio’s first appearance since coming back from testing positive for Covid-19, and he had an immediate impact.

Jarrod Bowen’s corner was deep and found Craig Dawson, who headed the ball back into the six-yard box. Antonio was there waiting to use his head to beat Forster.

VAR Craig Pawson tried to spoil the party by drawing his offside lines. The question was whether Antonio’s backside was behind the last man. It wasn’t and the West Ham striker had his first goal since striking against Tottenham on October 24.

West Ham were now on top and Rice was the next to have a go, with his 25-yard effort trickling narrowly wide. Yet one clumsy challenge from behind by Dawson saw Southampton retake the lead on the hour.

Armando Broja had knocked the ball beyond the West Ham defender, who was clearly beaten for pace. Dawson stumbled in trying to keep up with Broja, wiping him out.

Pawson advised Friend to visit his pitch-side monitor, where he overturned his original decision. Penalty to Southampton. Ward-Prowse took it, pummelling the ball into the bottom-left corner beyond Fabianski.

Yet West Ham hit back in the 65th minute with Bowen cleverly picking out Benrahma with his cross. Elyounoussi thought he should have been awarded a foul in the build-up but he was wasting his breath. Benrahma’s goal was good and it was 2-2.

We did not have to wait long for another twist as, in the 70th minute, Ward-Prowse produced one of his inviting crosses from a set piece. Few are better at delivering the ball like Southampton’s captain, and Bednarek did well to out-jump Dawson and Tomas Soucek to head in for 3-2.This time, West Ham had no response.

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