Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Hammers at the double to lift the pressure on Bilic

West Ham 2 Huddersfield 0

By Andy Sims

Slaven Bilic got the birthday present he so desperately needed as West Ham hauled themselves off the foot of the Premier League table with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.

Second-half goals from Pedro Obiang - thanks to a deflection - and Andre Ayew secured the Hammers' first league win this season.

It was a happy homecoming for the Hammers, playing their first game of the season at the London Stadium, and a happy 49th birthday for the boss.

"I am happy. I am happy for the lads and for the club. We started with three away games and three defeats and this was a must-win game," Bilic said after the game.

"It was not a nice performance but it was a top performance in all other stuff, like getting the ball, winning free-kicks and corners. We totally deserve it.

"I feel the pressure for a whole year now. It is maybe not logical to be under pressure after three games, but it is modern football.

"We said to the guys we would go back to basics, we had to keep the clean sheet and stop them from having the ball in dangerous areas. We knew with three players up front they would always cause problems."

West Ham have endured a turbulent couple of weeks, even by their own standards, with the club in dispute with Sporting Lisbon and Bilic at odds with his own chairman, David Sullivan, following a chaotic deadline day.

Andy Carroll returned from his latest injury lay-off to make his first appearance since April.

Bilic had said in the build-up his side needed to go back to basics and they certainly did that, aiming for the big frontman at almost every opportunity.

Michail Antonio, another who missed the start of the season through injury, was back to his menacing self and intent on giving Town left-back Chris Lowe a tough night. West Ham should have gone ahead when Antonio crossed low to Javier Hernandez, but the Mexican frontman lifted his shot onto the crossbar.

Huddersfield, rarely out of their own half before the interval, managed their first shot on target nine minutes into the second half, Joe Hart getting down well to hold Philip Billing's low drive.

And the nerves were beginning to jangle for the hosts when, in the 72nd minute, they got a huge slice of luck, and one which should keep Bilic in a job for now. Obiang picked up the ball 25 yards out and hit a speculative, to say the least, shot towards goal.

Town keeper Jonas Lossl would almost certainly have had it covered until it looped off the back of Mathias Jorgensen and crept inside the post.

Five minutes later, Ayew, summoned from the bench in place of Hernandez, snaffled the second from a goalmouth scramble.

West Ham: Hart; Collins, Reid, Fonte; Zabaleta, Kouyaté, Obiang (Rice 90), Cresswell; Antonio, Carroll (Sakho 82), Hernández (Ayew 64). Unused subs: Adrián, Ogbonna, Byram, Masuaku

Huddersfield Town: Lössi; Smith, Schindler, Jorgensen, Löwe (Malone 63); Billing (Depoitre 83), Mooy; Kachunga (Sabiri 75), Ince, Van la Parra; Mounié. Unused subs: Coleman, Hefele, Williams, Hadergjonaj.

Man of the Match: Michail Antonio

Match Rating: 6/10

Referee: Kevin Friend

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