Monday 29 May 2017

Slaven Bilic hails 'fantastic' response from West Ham after they sink Saints

Mark Noble's deflected free-kick secured three points for West Ham
Mark Noble's deflected free-kick secured three points for West Ham

Slaven Bilic saluted a "fantastic" display from West Ham after they bounced back from their midweek mauling to sink Southampton 3-1.

The Hammers were thumped 4-0 at home by Manchester City on Wednesday, and Bilic may have feared the worst when new signing Manolo Gabbiadini fired Saints ahead after just 12 minutes.

But Andy Carroll equalised within two minutes, Pedro Obiang added the second before half-time and a Mark Noble free-kick, deflected in by Steven Davis, lifted West Ham back into the top half.

"After the City game I said that no matter how much that hurt us it should not affect our confidence," said Hammers boss Bilic.

"That's what happened here. Today we were fantastic. When we had the ball we were everything you can ask as a manager.

"We had a game plan, the boys carried it out and played brilliantly in every aspect, and we deserved that big time."

Yet West Ham found themselves behind when £17million new boy Gabbiadini rocketed a shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

However, within two minutes Obiang's pass dissected Southampton's defence allowing Carroll to slot in his sixth goal in 12 games.

A minute before half-time Robert Snodgrass' corner was headed out to Obiang, who was loitering some 30 yards out.

The Spanish midfielder, by no means known for his shooting, sent a low drive through a crowd of players which seemed to deceive Fraser Forster as it crept inside the far post for his first Hammers goal.

"He should shoot more often," smiled Bilic. "He has that in himself, but sometimes he looks more for through-balls, but his shooting is good.

"That was a key moment in the game, to go 2-1 up at half-time changed the momentum."

West Ham wrapped up the win when Noble swung in a free-kick and Davis stuck out a foot to inadvertently hook the ball past Forster.

EFL finalists Southampton have now lost six of their last seven league matches and a relegation battle is not out of the question.

They face a trip to Sunderland next knowing a defeat there will leave them only five points ahead of David Moyes' strugglers.

"Now it's a big moment, the end of January, the start of February and I think now it's enough, we have to correct it," said manager Claude Puel.

"It was a pity for this game because we started very well with a fantastic goal by Gabbiadini, but to lose a goal five minutes later, it's not the first time.

"It was a difficult finish to the first half and we were unlucky in the third goal. We have to correct the situation.

"The next game is important for us. It's important to take points to prevent other teams coming back to our level. We need results and points."

Press Association

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