Sebastien Haller’s goal was his first in nine games

West Ham claimed a deserved win at relegation rivals Southampton in a game which could ease some pressure on Manuel Pellegrini.

Sebastien Haller scored the only goal with a sweet strike from Pablo Fornals’ knock-down in the first half.

The Hammers – who had a strong penalty appeal turned down by the video assistant referee – thought they had doubled their lead through Michail Antonio but his goal was ruled out by the VAR for handball.

Saints improved after the break – and Danny Ings hit the woodwork twice, although the offside flag had gone up for one of them, and then had a goal ruled out for a Moussa Djenepo foul.

Southampton – whose manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is also under pressure – remain in the relegation zone, with the Hammers now four points clear in 15th place.

West Ham boost morale despite VAR controversies

West Ham’s struggles are perhaps best illustrated by the fact Haller is their top scorer despite this goal – only his second since August – ending an eight-game drought.

The Hammers had only won once in their past 11 games in all competitions and there were doubts over whether Pellegrini could survive a defeat in this game.

But his side put in one of their best performances of the past couple of months, with Antonio and Haller lively up front.

The London side started on the front foot, with Declan Rice having a header from Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick rightly disallowed for offside in the opening two minutes.

West Ham then had a penalty appeal – in fact two penalty appeals in one – turned down. Ryan Bertrand appeared to push Haller as Jan Bednarek was shoving Antonio down at the same time – but the VAR did not give a penalty for either.

They fully deserved the breakthrough when Antonio kept the ball in play and pulled it back for Snograss, whose cross was headed back by Fornals to Haller to smash home a shot on the bounce.

It looked as if it was 2-0 when Antonio controlled the ball, blocked Bednarek’s clearance and blasted in. But VAR discovered that Antonio had used his hand in the initial bit of control. West Ham players and fans were furious but this season’s handball laws mean that you cannot use your hand and then score even if it was accidental.

They did not look quite so comfortable after the hour mark, although Haller almost doubled their lead with a fine header wonderfully saved by Alex McCarthy.

But West Ham saw the game out for only a second win since beating Manchester United on 22 September.

There was a worry at the end as David Martin hurt himself while taking a goal-kick in injury time but he played the final seconds because West Ham had already made three substitutions.

More to follow.



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