|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Andy Carroll and Mark Noble fire West Ham to victory against Watford
James Riach at Upton Park
Date Published Wednesday 20 April 2016 22.03 BST
This was no surprise result given the circumstances but a first win in eight for West Ham United and one in which Andy Carroll fired his calling card in the direction of Roy Hodgson once more.
Carroll set West Ham on the way to a comfortable victory against a depleted Watford and was his usual swashbuckling self throughout, just weeks before England name their squad for the European Championship.
The striker scored his sixth goal in five Premier League appearances and, backed up by Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho, was at his troublesome best against this makeshift Watford side who rested players in preparation for their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday. The opposition may not have been the strongest, but on this evidence Carroll is a man in as good nick as he has ever been.
Payet was also excellent and Mark Noble accomplished in midfield. It was the West Ham captain who scored twice from the penalty spot before Sebastian Prödl pulled one back for Watford with a fine finish, Troy Deeney missed a late penalty and Nordin Amrabat was sent off.
Yet despite their penalty miss, Watford were never in this game and their manager, Quique Sánchez Flores, insisted afterwards that he was not concerned about reports that his position is under threat even though he has steered the club to safety in their first season back in the top flight.
For Slaven Bilic, there was satisfaction. A first win since early March and, following the recent Cup defeat against Manchester United and late draw at Leicester, a smile. “We said before that every game is important at this stage of the season but this was a decisive game that will determine if we look up, or if we don’t win look down,” he said. “Of course Liverpool are in good form but it’s nice to have five-point cushion [over Southampton in eighth].”
Asked if the pressure was on the teams above West Ham, who will attempt to make a late push for a top-four finish, Bilic said: “The pressure is on us as well, it’s great pressure and positive pressure. It’s not like the pressure that Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich have. It’s the pressure you are grateful for, worship for, go to church and pray it’s going to be the same for the next six years.”
It did not take long for West Ham to exert control here. Watford made seven changes following the weekend victory against West Bromwich Albion – a first Premier League win in seven attempts – ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.
However, they were undone within 11 minutes. Payet, who has been in sublime form all season following his move from Marseille last summer, cut inside and lifted a precise ball over the defence for Carroll, who prodded home with his left foot past Heurelho Gomes.
West Ham’s second came controversially as José Holebas grappled with Cheikhou Kouyaté and the referee, Mike Dean, awarded a penalty. Noble sent Gomes the wrong way from the spot.
Bilic’s men did not have to wait long for another, following a few minutes to forget for Almen Abdi. Watford should have pulled one back through their Swiss midfielder and moments later he gave away a blatant penalty after lunging at the West Ham right-back Michail Antonio, who had made a bustling run forward. Again Noble stepped up and again he scored, down the middle.
Watford’s fans had something to cheer. in the 64th minute when the centre-half Prödl timed his run well from Steven Berghuis’s free-kick and finished sweetly with a left-footed half-volley. It was a dramatic last few minutes as Deeney, brought on at the death, had a penalty saved by Adrián after Prödl was adjudged to have been fouled by Angelo Ogbonna, before Amrabat was sent off following a second yellow card.
Asked about his job security, Flores said: “I am happy. I feel good. I think it is an amazing time we have now, four matches to finish and we have 41 points, it’s amazing. We are in a position that is very comfortable. We are in the semi-final of the FA Cup, but my future does not depend on one thing. We will see what happens.”
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE FROM UPTON PARK
West Ham (4-3-3): Adrian 7.5; Antonio 6.5, Reid 6.5, Ogbonna 6.5, Cresswell 6.5; Kouyate 7, Noble 7.5, Lanzini 7; Sakho 6.5 (Moses - 78), Carroll 7.5 (Emenike - 87), Payet 8 (Collins - 90)
Subs not used: Randolph, Tomkins, Obiang, Byram
Manager: Slaven Bilic 7
Watford (4-4-2): Gomes 7; Paredes 5.5, Prodl 6.5, Cathcart 5, Holebas 5; Guedioura 6 (Anya - 76) , Behrami 7, Suarez 6, Abdi 4.5 (Deeney - 76); Jurado 6.5 (Berghuis - 56), Amrabat 5.5
Subs not used: Nyom, Britos, Deeney, Pantilimon, Watson
Sent off: Amrabat
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores 5.5
Referee: Mike Dean 7
MOM: Dimitri Payet