In a game that saw the Hammers sentence the Saints to the relegation zone, David Moyes’ side completely outplayed Southampton as West Ham scored all three of their goals in the first half.
Winter signing Joao Mario opened the scoring 13 minutes in when the Portuguese midfielder opened his account for West Ham after firing the ball into the roof of the net after a quick counterattack from the hosts.
Marko Arnautovic made it 2-0 four minutes later after the Austrian striker’s first effort from close range was well saved by Alex McCarthy, but the Saint’s keeper couldn’t keep out the rebound as the former Stoke City player sent the West Ham fans into raptures.
Despite a dull spell of play from the second goal to stoppage time, the hosts still managed to muster a third goal with the final chance of the half as Arthur Masuaku’s incredible cross into the penalty area found the head of Arnautovic, and forward sealed the three points for the hosts with a perfect header past McCarthy.
Hammers hit the ground running
West Ham dominated in possession in the opening 10 minutes, but the Hammers were forced into an early change when Michail Antonio pulled his left-hamstring after the striker’s wind-up to a shot from 30-yards out saw the English attacker injury himself nine minutes in. Edimilson Fernandes came on in his place.
The early injury blow did not damper West Ham’s spirits, though, and this confidence was what led to the hosts opening the scoring 13 minutes in through loanee Mario.
A wasted attack by the Saints saw West Ham break away with the ball ferociously, as the pace and power of Cheikhou Kouyate and Fernandes decimated the Southampton defence. As Kouyate burst down the right wing towards the penalty area, the midfielder laid the ball off the Mario, and the player on loan from Inter Milan curled the ball past the reach of McCarthy, to give the hosts the lead.
An electric atmosphere
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, a feeling that had not been felt by the West Ham fans for such a long time, as this passion was what lead to the second goal four minutes after the first one had hit the back of the net.
Arnautovic had already come close to doubling the lead 11 minutes in when his curling effort from close range flew just wide of the far post, but the Austrian striker redeemed himself moments later when a cross from Mario found the head of the former Stoke player, and although his header was well saved by McCarthy, the West Ham number seven was given the chance to have a second attempt, and summer signing tapped in the rebound to double the hosts lead.
No fight back from Saints
West Ham were cruising at this point, playing with so much freedom and space that it made Mark Hughes’ side look mediocre. To make matters worse for the visitors, their lack of passion and intent to get back into the game hindered the quality of the game greatly as whenever Southampton got in possession you could sense that the following play will result in the Hammers regaining possession.
Southampton’s plan to sit back for the rest of the first half meant that West Ham found it hard to find a third goal, but it eventually came with the final chance of the half though Arnautovic once again.
A goal out nothing, Masuaku jogged down the left wing completely untested and whipped a deadly ball into the penalty area. Despite having two defenders marking him, Arnautovic was able to get a head on the whipped ball, and power the shot past the reach of McCarthy to make it 3-0 to the Hammers.
An untidy second half
Whilst the first half had West Ham fans on their feat for most of the 45 minutes, the second half provided the exact opposite for both the home and away fans. Southampton had benefited from halftime as the Saints were now playing with a bit of intent, but it was still not enough to break down a study Irons defence.
Aaron Cresswell came inches away from scoring one of the goals of the season in stoppage time when the English left back's flying effort from 25-yards out almost beat McCarthy, but his strike flew just too high, and bounced off the upperside of the bar and out for a goal kick.
With West Ham standing strong, the hosts were able to see out the game and claim an important three points that see’s the Hammers raise out of the relegation zone, and sending their opponents down into it.