West Ham crash to defeat as Brighton put on a second-half show
PUBLISHED: 17:05 03 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:05 03 February 2018
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The Hammers slip to a worrying Premier League defeat at the Amex Stadium
Brighton & Hove Albion 3 West Ham United 1
West Ham United’s wretched week ended with dismal defeat down by the Sussex seaside as Brighton checked out with all three points at the Amex Stadium.
Following their subdued transfer window and the sacking of Head of Recruitment, Tony Henry for his alleged comments on African players, the Hammers fell to their first league defeat of 2018 as the Seagulls followed up their 3-0 win at London Stadium in October to complete the double over David Moyes boys.
In-form Glenn Murray put Brighton ahead on seven minutes with his tenth goal of the season ahead of Javier Hernández dancing his way to an equaliser on the half-hour mark with his sixth strike of the campaign but two stunning second half rockets from Jose Izquierdo and Pascal Gross gave Brighton victory.
Following Tuesday night’s draw against Crystal Palace Moyes had unveiled an unchanged starting line-up, meaning that new £9m signing from Preston North End, Jordan Hugill was only named on the bench.
The Seagulls had also drawn 1-1 in midweek to make it just one win in their last 14 league outings but, having seen his team share the spoils at Southampton, former Hammer Chris Hughton opted to make just one change to his side, who kicked off in 15th spot, three places and three points below West Ham.
Anthony Knockært replaced substitute Solly March and, with just seven minutes on the clock, the Frenchman marked his return to the Seagulls nest by playing a key role in Brighton’s opener.
With Hernández failing to control Pablo Zabaleta’s pass from central midfield, the ball was played to Knockært, who still managed to find Davy Pröpper despite being scythed by the consequently-cautioned Aaron Cresswell and, with referee Roger East playing an intelligent advantage, the Dutchman slotted a defence-splitting pass into the path of Murray.
Almost instantly, the Seagulls squawks for a free-kick turned into a chorus of cheers, when the in-form striker calmly slotted the ball under the advancing Adrián and, with Murray celebrating his fifth goal from his last seven outings, Cresswell was left seeing yellow, while Knockært received treatment.
Brimming with confidence, Murray then tried an overhead effort that sailed wide and, with the Seagulls in the ascendency, the recovering Knockært also sent a couple of range-finders high and wide.
Midway through the half, the Hammers finally threatened, when Cresswell’s deep left-wing cross was met by Sam Byram but Shane Duffy cleared off the line to deny the right-back his first-ever West Ham goal to the dismay of the travelling supporters packed behind Matthew Ryan’s goal.
On the half-hour, though, those East Enders were, indeed, back on full song, when Hernández won possession in midfield before playing the ball to Mark Noble and, with the West ham skipper quickly threading his pass to João Mário on the 18-yard line, the on-loan, Portuguese playmaker picked out the Little Pea’s ghosting run into the area.
Pröpper fruitlessly tried to close down Hernández but the Mexican danced past the defender and, as Gaetan Bong lunged in, he rifled a rising 15-yarder under the right-hand angle to ensure that it was all-square at the break.
That strike also means the Hernández has now netted every one of his 43 Premier League goals from inside the penalty area - a record only eclipsed by John Terry (46) and Tim Cahill (51) and just after the restart he was back in the thick of things, when Lewis Dunk was booked for a cynical lunge on the South American.
Back in October, Izquierdo spectacularly netted his first goal in English football following his move from Club Brugge in the Seagulls win at London Stadium.
And, on the hour, the Colombian conjured up another cracker in this Amex Stadium return.
With the Hammers only managing to half-clear a Brighton corner, the ball fell to Izquierdo at the back of the penalty area and, although James Collins desperately tried to close him down, the £16 million man curled an unstoppable shot around the Welshman, beyond the groping glove of Adrián and under the right-hand angle.
Moyes responded by replacing Declan Rice with Michail Antonio, while Murray retired as Leonardo Ulloa stepped from the bench following his return from Leicester City.
But with a quarter-hour remaining, it was all over for West Ham, when Collins clearance was intercepted by Pröpper, who quickly found Gross on the edge of the penalty area and, although Angelo Ogbonna stood between him and goal, the German drilled a powerful 20-yarder into the net.
There was still time for Hugill to make his debut as Byram made way but, by now, West Ham were well beaten and, indeed, but for a cocktail of Adrián’s defiance and wasteful finishing, the scoreline could have got yet worse during the new boy’s ten-minute run-out.
SEAGULLS: Ryan, Schelotto, Bong, Dunk, Duffy, Stephens, Knockært (March 77), Groß (Kayal 83), Izquierdo, Pröpper, Murray (Ulloa 71). Unused subs: Krul, Bruno, Baldock, Goldson.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Byram (Hugill 80), Cresswell, Ogbonna, Collins, Zabaleta, Rice (Antonio 65), Noble, Kouyaté, Mário, Hernández. Unused subs: Hart, Reid, Fonte, Hakšabanović, Cullen.
Booked: Cresswell (7), Dunk (50), Izquierdo (61)
Referee: Roger East