|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham show progress with comprehensive win over makeshift Hull
The Guardian published 2015-01-18 15:42
West Ham United 3-0 Hull City | Premier League match report
David Hytner at Upton Park
At the interval here, as the Upton Park crowd booed and torpor reigned supreme, it was easy to think of the corresponding fixture from last season. Back in March, West Ham United managed to beat 10-man Hull City but the dissatisfaction at the performance was so strong that they were jeered by the home support at half-time and full-time. A disbelieving Sam Allardyce infamously cupped his hand to his ear in the face of the criticism.
West Ham is a happier club these days and this result felt like an appropriate barometer of the progress. Allardyce’s team might have been dismal for 45 minutes but they showed character and no little quality to respond with three well-taken goals in the second-half that deepened the considerable woes of Steve Bruce and Hull.
The stellar moment was provided by the substitute Morgan Amalfitano who took Enner Valencia’s pass and, one-on-one with the goalkeeper Allan McGregor, executed a glorious dinked finish. Andy Carroll had unlocked the stalemate and when Stewart Downing ran onto Alex Song’s lovely through-ball to score the third, Hull had that familiar sinking feeling. They have now lost 10 of their last 14 matches.
They had shaded the first-half and Ahmed Elmohamady was guilty of a dreadful miss in the sixth minute. Hull had other flickers before the interval. But they fell apart after Carroll’s goal and it is fair to say that Bruce has plenty of work on his hands to stop the slide.
West Ham’s poor start was hard to comprehend and when Mark Noble and Valencia went for the same ball, collided and fell over, it seemed to sum things up. The home crowd were understandably restless and they were relieved when Elmohamady blew the gilt-edged chance to put Hull in front.
It was the sort of opportunity that teams in relegation trouble have to take and it was worrying for the visitors when Elmohamady dragged it wide following Sone Aluko’s low cut-back from the right. Elmohamady was completely unmarked, 12 yards from goal.
Aluko caused a few initial problems, particularly for James Tomkins, with his quick feet and darting runs. He skipped into the area on a couple of occasions and, on the second, he ought to have shot, rather than pass to Jake Livermore, who was crowded out.
It was thud and blunder in the first-half, with West Ham edging it in the error stakes. Adrian cleared straight at David Meyler, almost presenting him with a chance and the home crowd growled when Carroll and Aaron Cresswell jumped for the same high ball. Hull, who lost James Chester and Alex Bruce to injuries, were hardly flawless, either.
West Ham offered little in the first-half, apart from a Cresswell pot-shot that fizzed wide but they almost pinched the lead in the 42nd minute when Valencia rose to meet Downing’s cross. The header looped high and came back down off the crossbar. When West Ham recycled the play, Tomkins’ header drew a save out of McGregor.
It was easy to imagine Allardyce delivering the proverbial rocket at the interval and West Ham re-emerged with purpose. Kevin Nolan lashed over from the edge of the box from another Downing cross before the breakthrough arrived.
It was not one that McGregor will enjoy seeing again. Valencia’s shot from 25 yards was well struck but the goalkeeper appeared to have position only to bat the ball back out in a central position. Carroll reacted the quickest, muscling in on the rebound to score his fifth goal of an injury-truncated season from close range.
Bruce has been left to lament what he has described as the worst injury crisis of his 17 years in management and he had the centre-half Harry Maguire on as a makeshift centre-forward early in the second-half. He swapped him back when he introduced Yannick Sagbo and it was just in time for Maguire to be one of the players giving forlorn chase to Downing on the final goal.
Valencia had almost capitalised on a dreadful Michael Dawson pass when the score was 1-0 and Nolan was denied by the post late on. The reality for Hull was that it could have been worse. For West Ham, there were hearty cheers upon the full-time whistle.