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  • By Julian Taylor at the London Stadium

Antonio helps Hammers edge past battling Burnley



West Ham United 1 Burnley 0


An early goal from Michail Antonio was sufficient to clinch the points for West Ham United in a hard-fought encounter against industrious Burnley. The forward’s close range finish helped the Hammers into eighth in the Premier League table – temporarily at least – before Chelsea take on Fulham later.


At times West Ham made life unduly taxing for themselves and should really have won by a more comfortable margin, despite the best efforts by the Clarets. Such is life, though, at the foot of the table for Sean Dyche’s men, lacking that desired break.


On another day this would have represented a rather disappointing outcome for the Londoners. While, frankly, not a game to live in the memory for too long, the result is essentially what matters and West Ham earned it, albeit the hard way.


Hammers boss David Moyes had stressed in the match programme about how much he was impressed with his players’ commitment of late, and although hardly an afternoon to be heralded for either fluency or entertainment, he should have few complaints. Another three points in the bag - and with another struggling outfit in the shape of West Bromwich Albion, to come at home on Tuesday, West Ham can anticipate a maximum return.


Although Burnley arrived in east London in 16th place, ten points behind United and struggling to score goals, this was still potentially a tricky test. After all, the Lancashire outfit did the double over West Ham last season.


The Hammers approached the game with two wins and two draws in their last four outings, so while satisfactory for Moyes in itself, there is always room for improvement, particularly with Antonio restored to the starting line up. And the popular hit man's instinct paid dividends as early as the eighth minute.


Antonio, unmarked inside the six yard box, was on hand to guide the ball home from a casually swung Pablo Fornals cross from the left. Welcome as the breakthrough was for the hosts, it had as much to do with obvious defensive inattention by Burnley, with centre back pairing Ben Mee and James Tarkowski failing to clear. Unsurprisingly, Clarets’ chief Dyche was fuming on the touchline.


Burnley’s difficulties in front of the opposition goalmouth were notable across the first half, as their response going forward was far too cumbersome, with West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski rarely troubled. A goal ruled out for offside when home defender Aaron Cresswell bundled the ball into his own net reflected the ill-fortune.


Mee, at least, was lucky in that his attempt to clear a 36th minute corner by Jarrod Bowen struck the woodwork with Angelo Ogbonna in close proximity. A minute later and Chris Wood rifled a speculative shot a yard wide as the Lancashire side at least enjoyed reasonable impetus, if not incision.


The second half began quietly – at least until West Ham almost doubled their lead in 50 minutes with Antonio lurking again. On this occasion, his powerful header was hacked off the line by Mee; the Clarets’ captain certainly being kept busy. Meanwhile, Declan Rice fired an audacious free kick from an acute angle which Burnley keeper Nick Pope was somewhat relieved to see fly over by mere inches.


Yet with just the single goal advantage, West Ham really needed to finish off matters, although the visitors’ forays were becoming increasingly sporadic. Hammers’ duo Craig Dawson and Ogbonna mopped up with ease and diligence, before Said Benrahma – who had a quiet afternoon – was replaced by Manuel Lanzini in the 67th minute.


Bowen then managed to brush aside Burnley substitute Dwight McNeil, but on this occasion his shot hit the side netting with that second goal still proving elusive. The Clarets replaced Wood with Jay Rodriguez in an attempt to liven things up, which they did to a certain extent at least.


With ten minutes remaining, amid a combative state of affairs, McNeil saw his intended cross from the left come off Fabianski’s crossbar, West Ham being forced to hold on, rather unnecessarily.


West Ham United: Fabianski, Cresswell, Coufal, Benrahma (Lanzini 67), Dawson, Fornals, Bowen (Yarmolenko 82), Ogbonna, Soucek, Antonio, Rice


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