Gulf in class shows as Haller double helps Hammers ease past Charlton
West Ham United 3 Charlton Athletic 0
Carabao Cup second round
West Ham eased into the third round of the Carabao Cup with a workmanlike and disciplined victory over London neighbours Charlton Athletic.
There was to be no shock from the League One visitors – that much was obvious when Sebastien Haller helped himself to a double within the first 25 minutes, before Felipe Anderson added a third in the latter stages.
Charlton put on a disciplined enough display, yet their overall inability to break between the lines and trouble Hammers’ keeper Darren Randolph – apart from a fizzing Jonny Williams second half drive - cost them.
There may be myriad questions over the current state of West Ham, on and off the pitch, and while victory over their opponents from south-east London was the objective, David Moyes was not for risking key players at the outset.
Issa Diop was the only survivor from the weekend line up; one that appeared so dismal, losing 2-0 at home to Newcastle United and showcasing the flaws already concerning Hammers fans so early in the season. So, no Declan Rice, Jarrod Bowen, Mark Noble or Tomas Soucek, for example, as well as the now permanent absence of Grady Diangana, controversially sold to West Bromwich Albion. Time, now, for manager Moyes to spend – that is the clear wish from the West Ham support, with Arsenal left back Sead Kolasinac newly linked with a transfer across the capital.
Charlton, like the hosts, are currently embroiled in heavy scrutiny regarding the club’s ownership – American businessman Thomas Sandgaard is the latest potential saviour – but this was an opportunity to show they appear to be more than a workaday League One outfit following relegation from the Championship.
Lee Bowyer, the Charlton boss, had an additional impetus to demonstrate his credentials against counterpart Moyes, suggesting pre-match that, one day, he would love to take over at West Ham. Bowyer’s ambition to manage the club he once served with distinction as a midfielder may be some way off yet, but the Londoner has shown remarkable patience in guiding a team amid boardroom turmoil.
Alfie Doughty is the talk of The Valley at the moment, with the midfielder on Celtic’s radar. And although the cavernous London Stadium, under current COVID-19 restrictions, was as eerie a venue as you could possibly imagine, it was, nevertheless, an ideal shop window for potential suitors.
An indifferent start was momentarily punctuated with a spark when West Ham had the ball in the net from close range, but Addicks’ keeper Ben Amos was on the receiving end of a foul amid an unseeming melee.
With Charlton soaking up a fair amount of pressure, Haller missed a great chance to put the Hammers ahead, before he demonstrated his clinical nature, scoring twice.
In the 21st minute, from a Josh Cullen assist, the Frenchman tucked the ball home from inside the six yard area, with question marks over Charlton’s marking.
And only five minutes later, Bowyer’s men were punished for a similar bout of inattention. Robert Snodgrass pinged a tempting cross-field ball into the danger area – territory the Addicks’ rearguard were increasingly failing to recognise – and Haller was on hand to direct a fine header beyond stranded Amos.
With that, the impression quickly formed that this London derby was shaping up to be a long night for Charlton, who were attempting to prise open West Ham on the break when they did have limited moments of possession. Doughty perhaps could have done better when he fired wide in 43 minutes after creating space for himself, but such half chances were rare.
Amos, meanwhile, kept the League One side in the game when he got down low to kick away a fierce, angled shot by Arthur Masuaku on the stroke of half time.
Charlton began the second half brightly enough, however, and Williams’ right footed volley was well turned away by Randolph; the West Ham keeper finally drawn into serious action.
Amos pulled off a great stop in 75 minutes, turning away a well-struck Snodgrass free kick with the Hammers searching for what would have been a killer third goal.
It soon arrived – and how neat it was. With ten minutes remaining, Anderson stroked home from seven yards after good twisting, turning and finally a short pass by Manuel Lanzini, who had been enjoying copious amounts of possession in the second half. Charlton had been working hard but the gulf in class was simply all too obvious.
Looking ahead, West Ham have an ominous date, away to Arsenal on Saturday. And with the Gunners on fire after their comfortable victory over Fulham, it will be a clash far more taxing than this affair. Charlton, meanwhile, take on Doncaster Rovers at The Valley.
West Ham: Randolph, Balbuena, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Lanzini, Snodgrass (Coventry 83), Haller, Diop, Masuaku, Johnson (Ashby 83), Cullen
Charlton Athletic: Amos, Purrington, Oshilaja, Williams (Washington 76), Bonne (Aneke 46), Pratley (Gilbey 76), Doughty, Oztumer, Levitt, Lapslie, Barker