West Ham United allayed some of the pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini by holding on for a 1-0 defeat of Southampton at St. Mary’s on Saturday.
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Sebastien Haller scored the lone goal and Michail Antonio had one pulled back by VAR, but Saints missed myriad promising chances to draw level.
West Ham moves 15th with 19 points, while Saints remain behind 17th place Aston Villa on goal difference.
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Three things we learned
1. Haller ends drought: Sebastien Haller’s early season honeymoon at West Ham was the thing of dreams. The big money Eintracht Frankfurt signing scored five times in seven matches. His chemistry with Felipe Anderson and company was wonderful. Then came eight matches without a goal and just one start in three matches. Manuel Pellegrini played him in attack with and not instead of Michail Antonio, and the pair delivered a goal.
2. Saints fail reward their own production: Southampton, quite frankly, should’ve claimed at least one point. Yes, West Ham also misused chances to score when it was 1-0 in its favor, but Saints had extreme problems in finishing what should’ve been great team goals. Ings hit the bar, which, yeah it happens, but Stephens and Hojbjerg’s second half chances have this 2-1 on another day.
There were similarities to their last outing, a 2-1 loss at Newcastle.
3. Antonio and Haller an answer for Pellegrini? Manuel Pellegrini likely bought himself more time with the win, but it wasn’t as convincing as it could’ve been had Antonio not been denied by VAR or Haller’s header not been saved by McCarthy. The big men were a problematic duo for the Southampton defense, and Pellegrini may opt to combine them again in future days.
Man of the Match: Antonio was a handful as usual, winning a half-dozen aerials and completed just as many dribbles.
Declan Rice had a first minute goal ruled offside (and properly so).
Sebastien Haller hit a glorious bass to Michail Antonio in the 17th minute, but the striker’s poor touch caused a handball.
Two West Ham players appeared to be fouled in the box on the same play, but Martin Atkinson saw nothing and VAR stayed with him.
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The Irons took the lead on a well-worked team goal, Antonio crossing to the back post for Pablo Fornals. He headed back for Haller, who kissed the ball off the far post.
Fornals looked to have his first Premier League goal in the bag one minute after the break, but was defied by Alex McCarthy.
Antonio had it 2-0 for a moment, but VAR spotted his handling of the ball early in the dribble that led to his would-be marker.
Danny Ings struck a ball off the cross bar and Long butchered the rebound as Saints bid for an equalizer.
McCarthy made an outstanding save on an off-balance Haller header in the 78th, while substitute Andriy Yarmolenko couldn’t keep his 79th minute effort under the bar.
Jack Stephens made the least of a terrific set-up in the 81st minute, though he would’ve had to do well to level the score.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the next to miss a back post effort, wide of the frame.