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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Villa Park

Maximum rewards with minimal effort for West Ham in 1-0 win at Aston Villa

West Ham scraped a 1-0 win against Steven Gerrard’s free-falling Aston Villa side on Sunday afternoon.

And it was Spaniard Pablo Fornals’s 74th-minute deflected looping goal that finally broke the East Londoners' duck for the season following an unbearable wait of 344 minutes, exacerbated by three defeats against Man City, Nottingham Forest and Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Hammers hadn’t scored and picked up a single point up until that point but today's victory will ease the pressure on David Moyes.

And on the basis of what they produced in the first-half, with new star signing Gianluca Scamacca coasting and wingers Jarrod Bowen and Emerson Palmieri appearing toothless and distracted , coming away with maximum points looked unlikely.

West Ham were second-best as Aston Villa really went for it in the opening stages, displaying a good amount of passion. Yet without finding a way through.

Scared of leaving gaps on the break in case they lost the ball, Gerrard’s men never really attacked with conviction.

And the best they came up with was on 13 minutes when Ollie Wakins cantered forward before coming on his right foot and leaving Thilo Kehrer’s in no man’s land. But Kurt Zouma, still booed throughout, put his body on the line to block the effort which, taking their negative spell into account, could also have fizzled in on a different day.

The Hammers’ best chance of breaking Villa’s resistance was by regaining possession high up the pitch before breaking quickly.

Yet that’s easier said than done for a side which appeared to lack hunger and ambition.

And it must quickly have dawned on Scamacca that Bowen and Fornals are more selfish than Giacomo Raspadori and Domenico Berardi, his former Sassuolo teammates who helped him score 16 goals in Serie A last term.

Their best attempt of the opening half was Fornals’ scuffed shot following a good lay-off by the Italian, who came short and worked extremely hard off the ball.

The Italy international tried his luck after the hour-mark but Emiliano Martinez easily dealt with his deflected shot.

On the basis of their showings today, who knows how many West Ham players will keep their place in the XI once Lucas Paqueta and Maxwell Cornet have fully settled into the squad and surroundings.

But that’s irrelevant for now. And when Fornals’ effort looped over the former Arsenal goalkeeper and into the back of the net, the players' and fans' joy alike was unconfined.

Three points on board and off the bottom of the table.


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