West Ham United F.C
West Ham beat Burnley with early Antonio effort
- Credit: PA
Heading into mid-January, the Hammers certainly do not look like coming down with the Christmas decorations following this valiant victory over battling Burnley.
Making it a Deadly Dozen since Project Restart, Michail Antonio’s fourth goal of the season proved enough to give West Ham United all three points as they extended their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions since the festive period.
The Hammers striker struck the decider inside 10 minutes but after missing a string of decent opportunities to add to that Antonio opener, the hosts endured a nervy finale as Burnley pressed for a late leveller that, fortunately, never materialised.
Following his side’s hard-fought FA Cup victory at Stockport County on Monday, David Moyes made five changes with fit-again Łukasz Fabiański returning between the posts alongside Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen and Tomáš Souček as Darren Randolph, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ben Johnson, Manuel Lanzini and Mark Noble all returned to the bench.
But despite making that quintet of switches, the Hammers soon got into gear and took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock, when Saïd Benrahma’s ball into the left-hand channel was collected by Bowen, who cleverly cut back to Fornals.
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And when the Spaniard whipped over a curling cross, a slight flick off the scalp of Clarets’ captain Ben Mee, left Hammers summer transfer target James Tarkowski wrong-footed and Antonio made no mistake as he ghosted in at the far post to slot home from six yards.
With Josh Brownhill having clashed heads with Declan Rice in the opening seconds, it had already been a painful start for a Burnley side who were unchanged following Tuesday’s defeat against Manchester United.
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Kicking-off off in 16th spot – six places and 10 points below the Hammers – Sean Dyche’s men arrived in the capital having already failed to score on five of their previous six away-days this season.
And, although Jóhann Gudmundsson sent any early long-ranger into Fabiański’s clutches, the visitors never looked like cancelling out Antonio’s strike during an opening half-hour in which they posed little threat in the final third.
Cresswell’s foul on Brownhill, though, gifted Robbie Brady a dangerous looking free-kick but the Republic of Ireland international slammed his 18-yarder into the West Ham wall before Matthew Lowton sent the rebound high over the top.
There was also an escape for the Hammers on 33 minutes, when Chris Wood’s low left-wing cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by the sliding Cresswell but the Burnley target man – West Ham’s nemesis of recent seasons with six goals against them – was rightly adjudged offside.
With the action quickly switching to the other end, Bowen then forced a corner which he floated to the near post, where the rising Rice flicked on for Angelo Ogbonna to send a stooping header crashing onto the far upright leaving only Antonio’s opener separating the two teams at the break.
Burnley introduced Dwight McNeil in place of Gudmundsson for the restart but just six minutes into the second half, Antonio might have doubled his tally when Vladimír Coufal crossed into the six-yard box but Mee calmly chested down before clearing the header off the line.
Then, when Tarkowski upended the West Ham goalscorer on the left-hand edge of the penalty area, Rice drilled the consequent, angled free-kick beyond the far upright before Antonio inexplicably sliced his 10-yarder for a throw-in.
On a rare break upfield, Ashley Barnes was booked for a crude slide tackle on Fabiański and that proved to be the Burnley striker’s last act of the afternoon as he soon departed to be replaced by Matej Vydra, before Lanzini came on for Benrahma.
The breaking Bowen then burst clear but with the whites of Nick Pope’s eyes coming into his sights, he wastefully lashed his 12-yard shot into the side netting.
After Mee nodded inches wide at the other end, a last roll of the Dyche saw Wood retire in place of Jay Rodriguez, who was soon upended by the consequently cautioned Souček. Certainly, with his side looking rejuvenated by those three new, second-half faces, the Burnley boss was seeing his team enjoy their best spell of the match.
Indeed, with the blooded Craig Dawson and Ogbonna trying to keep the cork on the Clarets, the Hammers were coming under pressure in their own area as McNeil pinged one on to Fabiański’s crossbar from the left flank before Brady curled the loose ball wide.
With Yarmolenko coming on for Bowen – hooked for the 16th time this season – Rodriguez bundled just inches wide before the escaping Ukrainian substitute had a great chance to ease home tensions but he lacked both pace and confidence, allowing Mee to bravely block his 10-yarder.
But in the end, time simply ran out for the visitors as the Hammers - bolstered by a hat-trick of clean sheets - extended their unbeaten Premier League run to four matches ahead of Tuesday night’s Stratford showdown with Sam Allardyce’s West Bromwich Albion.
West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Ogbonna, Dawson, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice, Bowen (Yarmolenko 82), Benrahma (Lanzini 68), Fornals, Antonio. Unused subs: Alves, Noble, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson, Randolph, Odubeko.
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson (McNeil 46), Westwood, Brownhill, Brady, Wood (Rodriguez 72), Barnes (Vydra 63). Unused subs: Cork, Stephens, Norris, Bardsley, Long, Benson.
Booked: Barnes 63, Soucek 73, Ogbonna 83.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.