|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Watford in stunning comeback as they hit four to shock West Ham
Paul MacInnes at the London Stadium
Date Published Saturday 10 September 2016 17.18 BST
Walter Mazzarri’s Watford came back from two goals down to claim their first three points of the season in a match that had great goals, terrible defending and the unfortunate sight of fighting in the stands of the Olympic Stadium.
West Ham confirmed that supporters had been ejected from the ground after a dispute broke out not just between rival supporters but groups of home fans, unhappy at the seating arrangements in the club’s new stadium. Many other supporters had left by the final whistle, however, after a capitulation that Slaven Bilic found hard to explain.
Two headed goals from Michail Antonio in the first half an hour had apparently set West Ham fair for victory, before Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney levelled before half-time. The Hornets stung the hosts twice more after the break, but Bilic suggested the crucial blow was struck before then. “From my point of view the first goal was way too easy,” the West Ham manager said. “It came from a very predictable attack and we should at least have put them in a situation where they had to do something better to hurt us.
“For the first 40 minutes we controlled the game and if anyone was going to score more it was us. You can’t concede that type of goal then.”
Mazzarri concurred that the home side dominated the early stages. “West Ham played very well in the beginning and especially in defence we were very afraid, but even then we had chances to score”, the Italian said.
“We played very well in the second half, as we did against Arsenal, and it was because of us that we won, not a problem with West Ham. If we continue like this, it will be a great season.”
Ighalo had already fired a shot just past the post before West Ham opened the scoring in the sixth minute. The debutant striker Simone Zaza forced a corner and the returning West Ham hero Dimitri Payet stepped over to take it.
His inswinging ball eluded Winston Reid at the front post but found Antonio, whose stooping header came off his marker Deeney and past the bewildered Heurelho Gomes.
Watford were all over the place at the back but powerful going forward and Ighalo had two more chances before 15 minutes of the game were up. A quick counterattack in the eighth minute had the nimble Uruguayan Roberto Pereyra bearing down on the West Ham goal. He squared the ball for Ighalo, who took a touch and got a shot off but Arthur Masuaku managed to get a deflection on to the ball. Four minutes later Ighalo was on the spot again to connect with Daryl Janmaat’s cross but Adrián saved the volley with his legs.
The game was wide open but West Ham looked like they had sealed the result when they doubled their lead just after the half hour. It all came from a moment of joyous skill from the home side’s talisman, Payet. Antonio and Payet had swapped sides, leaving the Frenchman free to torment Miguel Britos. He sent him one way in the box, then cut back on the other, but Payet was not done, opting not to cross with his left foot but instead to execute a rabona with his right. The technique was perfect and Antonio dived in at the far post to connect with a storming header.
A previously quiet stadium erupted and the home side looked like they would cruise into half-time. But then, with 41 minutes on the clock, came the moment that frustrated Bilic. A quick break found the young right-back Sam Byram out of position and Ighalo one on one with James Collins. The Nigerian threw Collins a shoulder and squeezed his shot under Adrián.
By the time the whistle blew for the interval, and to the almost audible surprise of the entire ground, Watford had equalised. After the match Mazzarri called Deeney the embodiment of the mentality he wants to see at the club, but it was a moment of pure quality from the skipper that levelled the match.
Only seconds before, he had bailed out the left-back José Holebas after another marauding Antonio run. But with fewer than 60 seconds of added time on the clock Deeney chased down a long ball and forced Adrián into punching it out of his area. He then got to the second ball himself and, with the Hammers defence bearing down on him, took one look and chipped the ball over the lot and inside the far stanchion. It was wonderful.
Two each at half-time and the match was in the balance. But Watford had grown in confidence and came out determined to swing the match their way.
Bilic, meanwhile, spoke of “pale faces” in his dressing room. After seven minutes of the restart Watford claimed the lead for the first time when their leading scorer Etienne Capoue volleyed Pereyra’s cross through Adrián.
The Spaniard’s afternoon got even worse when Holebas won the ball on the edge of the box, got it back from Ighalo and shot low under his body.
This time, the game was truly over. West Ham were unable to get behind Watford again. The visitors had another goal ruled out for the substitute striker Stefano Okaka who then had to hobble off injured in injury time. By the time he did so, the ground was half empty.
Daily Mail: PLAYERS RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Adrian 5; Byram 4 (Tore, 85), Reid 5, Collins 4, Masuaku 5; Kouyate 5, Noble 5.5 (Calleri, 69); Antonio 7, Lanzini 6, Payet 6.5; Zaza 5.5 (Fletcher, 77)
Subs not used: Randolph, Nordtveit, Obiang, Ogbonna
Goals: Antonio 5, 33
Booked: Byram, Zaza
Watford (3-5-2): Gomes 6, Cathcart 5.5, Kaboul 6 (Prodl, 82), Britos 5.5; Janmaat 6, Behrami 6, Capoue 7, Pereyra 6.5, Holebas 7; Deeney 8 (Okaka, 79), Ighalo 7 (Success, 69)
Subs not used: Guedioura, Zuniga, Watson, Pantilimon
Goals: Ighalo 41, Deeney 45+2, Capoue 53, Holebas 63
Booked: Okaka, Behrami
Referee: Martin Atkinson