Southampton 0-1 West Ham United: Haller helps Hammers to vital victory
(PHOTO: Getty Images / Naomi Baker)

West Ham had managed only one win and one clean sheet in their previous 11 Premier League games, but a hard-fought performance saw them defeat a lacklustre Southampton side. 

Story of the match

The visitors made a bright start to the game, and Declan Rice thought he’d given West Ham the lead after less than two minutes. His header from Robert Snodgrass’ whipped free-kick was ruled out for offside.

The Hammers came close again a few minutes later, Pablo Fornals almost converting Antonio’s drilled cross at the back post, but the Spaniard was denied a first Premier League goal by a last-ditch block from Cedric Soares.

Southampton struggled to create throughout the first half, and the hosts were let off the hook on 27 minutes when Martin Atkinson denied the away side a penalty, Haller and Antonio both seemingly fouled as they attempted to meet Aaron Cresswell’s cross.

However, West Ham did take a deserved lead 10 minutes later through Sebastien Haller, the Frenchman finishing with aplomb from inside the area after he was assisted by Fornals' cushioned header.

The home side almost found an equaliser just before the break, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg evading his marker, but the midfielder misjudged Cedric’s cross and headed well over David Martin’s goal.

West Ham started the second half quickly, much like the first, and they almost doubled their advantage shortly after the restart. A quality save from Alex McCarthy was enough to keep out Fornals' well-struck effort. 

West Ham thought they had a second on 51 minutes after the effective Antonio fired home, however Manuel Pellegrini's side had a goal ruled out for the second time, VAR ruling that the ball hit Antonio's hand in the build-up, and the score remained 1-0. 

With 30 minutes remaining Southampton began to grow into the game, attempting to threaten though Moussa Djenepo and James Ward-Prowse, but Ralph Hassenhuttl's team were unable to really trouble the West Ham defence despite dominating the ball.

Danny Ings was hardly involved for the majority of the game but he almost volleyed home an equaliser for Southampton with 20 minutes remaining, only the crossbar denying the striker from scoring for the sixth game in a row. 

Ings did manage to find the back of the net minutes later with a screamer from distance, however his goal was ruled out due to a foul on Ryan Fredericks in the build-up, disallowed goals proving to be a recurring theme throughout the fixture. 

West Ham capitulated at home to Arsenal earlier in the week as they lost 3-1 despite leading for an hour, but Pellegrini's side showed fight to hold onto victory despite a late barrage from the home team.

Ward-Prowse had an opportunity to rescue a point with a late free-kick, but the set-piece specialist was unable to produce one of his trademark strikes, and the Hammers held on for all three points.  

Takeaways

Hammers' changed approach pays dividends

The absence of Felipe Anderson forced Manuel Pellegrini to change his tactical approach, and the decision to start a strike partnership of Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller, who got a deserved goal, paid dividends.

West Ham fans have been calling out for the manager to play two upfront, and it was clear to see why. The attacking duo complimented one another, the Frenchman using his aerial dominance to feed Antonio, who in-turn stretched Saints' defence with his pace and power.

Win saves Pellegrini's job

Under-pressure Manuel Pellegrini had overseen a terrible run of form for his team which included seven losses in nine league games, and threatened the security of his job.

A vital win on the South Coast, in a game billed as a relegation six-pointer due to the league standings of the two teams, may have kept the Chilean in East London, for the time being at least.

Saints fail to make possession count

Southampton had 57% of the possession, but were only able to manage two shots on target. 

Ralph Hassenhuttl will have been disappointed by his team's inability to supply Shane Long and Danny Ings, with both forwards ineffective and unable to impact the game for large parts.

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