West Ham 2-0 Huddersfield Five Things: Bilic backed

Obiang celebrates fortuitous opener – mirror.co.uk

Goals from Pedro Obiang and Andre Ayew lifted West Ham and Slaven Bilic, giving them a 2-0 win over high-flying Huddersfield. Here’s five key talking points from the match.

High-intensity

West Ham applied relentless pressure in the first half. They hit early balls to Andy Carroll, who always had a physical advantage over his marker, Christopher Schindler. The centre-back stayed behind Carroll which, although not unwise, meant that the home side could get numbers in the final third and create openings.

Antonio’s speed

Those openings were often created by Michail Antonio, who set up the best chance of the half on 14 minutes. The ex-Nottingham Forest winger used his pace and power to get beyond Chris Loewe before drilling the ball across for Javier Hernandez, who hit the bar from close-range under pressure from Tommy Smith. Antonio’s direct runs also led to a lot of set pieces, one free-kick from Aaron Cresswell headed downwards by James Collins, but Jonas Lossl was equal to their only first half effort on target.

Tentative Terriers

We normally associate Huddersfield with a fearlessly high tempo, but tonight they looked overawed by the athleticism of their opponents. Aaron Mooy could not find the space to exert his usual influence, largely due to the aggression of Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate, while Rajiv Van La Parra couldn’t get into the game thanks to Pablo Zabaleta’s fervent pressing. The visitors were uncomfortable playing out from the back but had no joy going long, with Steve Mounie dominated by Collins.

Ayew the key

Jordan Ayew came off the bench on 64 minutes to replace Hernandez and had a hand in both goals. He laid the ball off for Obiang, who saw his shot take a fortuitous deflection off Mathias Jorgensen which wrong-footed Lossl, before the ball clunked the post on its way in. Within 13 minutes of entering the fray at 0-0, Ayew put his side two goals up, stabbing home in a goal-line scramble after Cresswell’s corner. Tom Ince hit the bar in the closing stages but it was too little, too late.

In summary

Huddersfield did not do themselves justice and, if similar performances continue, David Wagner may feel he needs to add some physicality to the side to cope with these types of matches. Credit should be given to West Ham, who played with power, aggression and intensity, even if it took longer than they might have liked for the final third quality – or fortune – to come. Bilic might have feared for his job before the match, but that display shows clearly that the players are right behind him.