|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham’s Lucas Pérez takes advantage after Cardiff fluff penalty
Jacob Steinberg at the London Stadium
Date Published Tue 4 Dec 2018 21.52 GMT
It was a harsh lesson for Cardiff about the realities of life at this level. After seeing Lukasz Fabianski save Joe Ralls’s limp penalty when this strange game was in the balance, they were forced to endure the indignity of West Ham strutting around long before the final whistle. Even Andy Carroll, given a chance to stretch his legs after returning from his latest injury, was joining in the fun as the impudent Felipe Anderson led the showboating in the closing stages.
Cardiff, two points above the bottom three, had to suck it up after wasting a chance to claim their first away win this season. It felt ominous for West Ham when Marko Arnautovic, their main source of inspiration, suffered a hamstring injury shortly before half-time. Nobody inside the London Stadium imagined West Ham would start the second half with a 12-minute blitz that featured the rare sight of a couple of piercing strikes from Lucas Pérez.
The former Arsenal striker’s first league goals since January 2017 provided the platform for Manuel Pellegrini to claim his first consecutive wins in the Premier League since replacing David Moyes as manager. West Ham, up to 12th place, are starting to sense the pieces are falling into place. They have an inviting run of fixtures over the Christmas period and find themselves five points off sixth.
However, their true level will remain hard to judge until they become sharper at both ends of the pitch. Pellegrini, who revealed Jack Wilshere was absent because of an ankle problem, was unhappy with his side for failing to kill off Cardiff when they were on top in the first 25 minutes. “We started very well,” he said. “After that we didn’t make good movements to create space.”
Having survived the early storm, Cardiff moved past the halfway line. The sudden threat caught West Ham by surprise and Arnautovic, who had seen a shot cleared off the line by Sean Morrison, gifted the visitors a penalty when he shoved Junior Hoilett. “Absolutely unnecessary,” Pellegrini said, though Fabianski came to the rescue when he smothered the timid effort.
As for Arnautovic, his night went from bad to worse when pain shot up his left hamstring as he tried to reach a pass from Anderson. The Austrian will be assessed on Wednesday, but he could face a long spell on the sidelines.
Cardiff sensed an opportunity to build on last Friday’s victory over Wolves at that stage. Neil Warnock had urged his players to target Michail Antonio, struggling at right-back because Ryan Fredericks was unavailable to fill in for Pablo Zabaleta, and the visitors pressed down the left flank at the start of the second half, another low cross from Joe Bennett finding Víctor Camarasa, who ought to have done better than fire against Arthur Masuaku from close range.
This time West Ham punished Cardiff’s profligacy, Camarasa’s error allowing Robert Snodgrass to lift a clever pass through to Pérez. Arnautovic’s replacement showed fine technique with a left-foot drive that had too much fizz for Etheridge.
Pérez has made little impact since his £4m move from Arsenal in the summer. Yet the Spaniard was in his element now, producing another accurate finish with his left foot after being released by Masuaku. “Lucas did very well,” Pellegrini said. “I hope he will continue in the same way.”
Cardiff’s woes increased when Antonio, shrugging off Harry Arter and darting in front of Callum Paterson, headed in Snodgrass’s corner in the 61st minute. “It showed we can win games away from home tonight,” Warnock said. “I pulled Manuel aside in the technical area and asked, ‘How can we be losing 3-0 to you?’ He went, ‘I don’t know’.
Warnock went on to bemoan the individual errors that led to West Ham’s goals. Josh Murphy’s late goal meant nothing.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
WEST HAM: (4-4-2) Fabianski; Antonio, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Snodgrass (Diangana 76), Rice, Noble, Felipe Anderson; Hernandez (Carroll 64), Arnautovic (Lucas Perez 40)
SUBS NOT USED: Adrian, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Obiang
GOALS: Lucas Perez 49, 54; Antonio 61
BOOKING: Arnautovic 36
COACH: Manuel Pellegrini
CARDIFF: (4-1-4-1) Etheridge; Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Bennett; Gunnarsson; Victor Camarasa, Ralls (Mendez-Laing 64), Arter, Hoilett (Murphy 64); Paterson (Harris 77)
SUBS NOT USED: Smithies, Peltier, Reid, Madine
GOAL: Murphy 90+5
BOOKING: Ralls 40
COACH: Neil Warnock
REFEREE: Graham Scott
MAN OF THE MATCH: Lucas Perez
VENUE: The London Stadium