West Ham return to winning ways with dominant win at depleted Watford

David Moyes’ side clinched their first league away victory since 31 October and ended a five-match winless run in all competitions

Sonia Twigg
Tuesday 28 December 2021 17:11
Claudio Ranieri's Chelsea career

West Ham United returned to winning ways after coming from behind to secure a dominant 4-1 victory over a depleted Watford at Vicarage Road.

David Moyes’ side clinched their first league away victory since 31 October and ended a five-match winless run in all competitions.

Despite having only one full training session in two weeks, Claudio Ranieri’s men started on the front foot, with Emmanuel Dennis giving the home side the lead in only the fourth minute.

However, West Ham’s match fitness and sharpness was evident as they grew into the game, hitting an equaliser in the 27th minute through Tomas Soucek.

Two minutes later the visitors had the lead, with Said Benrahma’s effort taking a deflection off Adam Masina and landing in the back of the net.

Mark Noble scored his first Premier League goal since January 2020 when he sent Hornets goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann the wrong way from the penalty spot for the Hammers’ third in the second half.

In added time substitute Nikola Vlasic scored his first club goal for West Ham’s fourth.

It was the Hornets’ first time taking the field since a 2-1 defeat at Brentford on December 10 after three matches were postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak that continued to affect the squad.

Matters also went from bad to worse for Ranieri when Kiko Femenia was forced off in the first half.

Watford took an early lead when Dennis was played in by Joshua King for his eighth goal of the season.

King found Dennis in the box, but the forward had to weave his way across to create the angle for a shot which he struck past Lukasz Fabianski.

West Ham almost pulled level five minutes later when Benrahma cut inside and hit a left-footed strike, but it rebounded off the crossbar.

Since going behind, the visitors continued to push for the equaliser, with Masina having to make a block to stop Michail Antonio’s effort.

In the 27th minute West Ham levelled, with Soucek firing past Bachmann after being found in space in the box by Jarrod Bowen.

Two minutes later the visitors took the lead when Antonio, on his return to the side, played in Benrahma.

The former Brentford forward’s shot was deflected into the back of the net past Bachmann off Masina.

West Ham looked to have added to their lead at the start of the second half, when Soucek played in Bowen after Dennis lost the ball. However, the goal was ruled out for a foul by Soucek in the build-up.

Moments later at the other end of the field, Watford had a counter-attack and Moussa Sissoko forced a save from Fabianski.

West Ham added to their lead just before the hour mark when referee Darren England awarded the visitors a penalty after consulting the on-field monitor.

Bowen was fouled by goalkeeper Bachmann after getting to the ball before the goalkeeper, and the official reversed his decision before pointing to the spot.

Noble stepped up to take the penalty, sending the Hornets goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 3-1 to West Ham, before Vlasic made it 4-1 in added time after being played in by Bowen.

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