A three-goal first half has likely secured West Ham United’s Premier League status for another year.
The Irons scored twice in the first 10 minutes and withstood anything Watford brought their way in a 3-1 win at the London Stadium on Friday.
Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek, and Declan Rice scored for the Irons, with Troy Deeney getting the Hornets’ lone goal.
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West Ham moves to 37 points, level with Brighton and three more than the defeated Hornets. More importantly, the Irons are six points ahead of 18th-place Bournemouth and 19th-place Aston Villa with two matches to play.
Watford now has to hope for help out-of-town or memorable points against Arsenal or Man City.
West Ham meets Manchester United and Villa to finish their season, so it’s not 100 percent certain they’ll survive but Friday’s win was likely momentous given the club’s superior goal difference over all four clubs remaining with them in the relegation conversation.
Three things we learned
1. Antonio remains the Irons savior: A man who had 2 goals and 2 assists before the coronavirus pause now is one goal away from his first 10-goal season in the Premier League. Five of his nine PL goals this season have come in the last week after the Irons relegated Norwich City a week ago and may have put Watford on that path on Friday. David Moyes should be buying this man dinner, because the early goal settled nerves in West Ham’s biggest match of the season.
2. Watford becomes supporters of the out-of-town scoreboard: Nigel Pearson’s men next meet Arsenal and Manchester City. While plenty of clubs have found points against those traditional powers during this weird season, you certainly wouldn’t bet on the Hornets to get it done.
3. Rice showcases shooting: Declan Rice is known for controlling the pace in the middle of the park and breaking up the other team’s possession. He’s definitely got goals in his locker, though, despite scoring just thrice in his Premier League career. The latest was a wondrous curler from outside the 18 which left Ben Foster looking like he’d been trying to deconstruct a complex theorem. Rice has now scored in a 1-0 win over Arsenal, a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle, and this 3-1 decision. So it’ll be four next time for the Irons.
Man of the Match
We’re going to go with Soucek, who has been critical to seemingly everything good not done by Antonio in West Ham’s run to safety. The Slavia Prague loanee should be back with the Irons next year if the Londoners have their wits about them.
West Ham – Watford recap
The Irons did not take long to strike, and it’s no surprise that Antonio was the scorer. The man who scored four against Norwich used a deft finish to make it 1-0 after six minutes.
Soucek’s become an offensive threat in recent weeks and got high to head a Jarrod Bowen cross home for 2-0 in the 10th minute.
The third goal was a beauty and could’ve been mistaken for a cross the way Ben Foster reacted to Rice’s tremendous curler from distance.
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They got the goal a minute later when Abdoulaye Doucoure drove into the box and saw his shot pushed off the post by Lukasz Fabianski. Deeney deposited the rebound for 3-1 with 41 minutes to play.
Kiko Femenia dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 59th minute, Watford still pressing for a second.Follow @NicholasMendola