West Ham United overcame the initially debilitating effects of their midweek FA Cup replay to produce a dazzling second-half display that brought them a first win in five league games and overwhelmed a Hull City side who seem doomed to a long fight against relegation.
Sam Allardyce’s men could not get going in a first half that was enlivened by the ambitious dribbling of Hull’s Sone Aluko. But after the break, goals from Andy Carroll, substitute Morgan Amalfitano and Stewart Downing swept the visitors aside, lifting the Hammers into seventh and keeping them well in the hunt for a Europa League place
“I haven’t seen us pass as poorly all season as we did in the first half and that can only be the legacy of the efforts we put in on Tuesday to beat Everton,” Allardyce said.
“In the second half changing the shape was the big thing, and playing forward quicker.
“All this tippy-tappy stuff everybody keeps going on about as the right way to play football is all a load of bollocks sometimes. Getting the ball in the opposition’s box as quickly as you can with quality and getting it forward and in behind the opposition is sometimes the best way forward and that’s why we won the game.”
Hull manager Steve Bruce’s injury list lengthened again with James Chester suffering a dislocated shoulder that will require an operation and his son Alex sustaining a thigh strain, both in the first half. But Bruce wasn’t hiding behind absentees. “I don’t want to make excuses about injuries. The way we played in the first half delighted us, but we needed to score. The second half just wasn’t good enough.”
Aluko worried the life out of the West Ham rearguard in the first half, but the striker’s failure to pull the trigger once he had got within shooting range kept the scores level.
West Ham were reduced to headers by James Tomkins (too high) and Enner Valancia (pushed onto the bar by Allan McGregor) until they upped the tempo after the break.
After 49 minutes, Carroll reacted more quickly than Curtis Davies to net from close range after McGregor could not hold Valencia’s shot.
On 69 minutes, Valencia took Alex Song’s pass and moved the ball into the path of Amalfitano, who had taken the field only four minutes earlier. He lifted the ball delightfully over goalkeeper McGregor.
Two minutes later, Song saw a gap recently vacated by the substituted Hull captain Davies as Bruce went for broke. He played a perfect ball through for Downing to charge through and score number three. Kevin Nolan could even have scored a fourth when he hooked the ball against the crossbar.
“The quality of the second and third goals were what we have been looking for,” Allardyce said. “But for me the biggest thing was the clean sheet. I think we will always score goals and be in every game.”
WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins (Reid 49), Tomkins (O’Brien 76), Cresswell; Noble (Amalfitano 65), Song; Downing, Nolan, Valencia; Carroll.
HULL CITY (3-5-1-1): McGregor; Dawson, Bruce (Maguire ht), Davies (Sagbo 72); Chester (Figueroa 45), Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Elmohamady; Quinn; Aluko.
Referee: Martin Atkinson