Saturday, 10th September 2016
Having been dumped out of Europe by Romanian minnows Astra Giurgiu before suffering defeat in two of their opening three Premier League fixtures, it was imperative that Slaven Bilic and his team got back on the winning track against the (winless prior to today) Hornets this afternoon.
And for much of the first half it looked like mission accomplished as the Hammers surged into a two-goal lead through a brace of Michail Antonio headers - the second via a sublime piece of skill from Dimitri Payet.
But with half time less than five minutes away Odion Ighalo was allowed to halve the deficit before a dreadful mix-up between Adrian and James Collins allowed Watford captain Troy Deeney to equalise from an acute angle with virtually the last kick of the half.
Whatever Bilic said to his team during the interval was clearly less effective that the talk given by his opposite number Walter Mazzarri, as goals from Etienne Capoue and Jose Holebas completed an amazing turnaround for the visitors.
Sadly the match itself proved to be only half the story, as violent skirmishes between home fans and clashing sets of supporters once again broke out around the stadium throughout the game in both the lower and upper tiers.
And whilst home fans at either end of the ground were treated with a heavy hand and ordered to sit or be ejected, away fans - situated an aisle away - were allowed to stand throughout the game.
West Ham Utd: Adrian, Byram (Tore 84), Collins, Reid, Masuaku, Noble (Calleri 68), Kouyate, Antonio, Lanzini, Payet, Zaza (Fletcher 76).
Subs not used: Randolph, Nordtveit, Obiang, Ogbonna.
Goals: Antonio (5, 33).
Booked: Zaza, Byram.
Watford: Gomes, Cathcart, Kaboul (Prodl 81), Britos, Janmaat, Capoue, Pereyra, Behrami, Holebas, Deeney (Okaka 77), Ighalo (Success 68).
Subs not used: Pantilimon (GK), Zuniga, Watson, Guedioura.
Goals: Ighalo (41), Deeney (45+2), Capoue (53), Holebas (63).
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
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Rarely called into action but more than capable when asked to do so. A nice easy start to the season for one of the RoI's Euro 16 heroes.
Looked accomplished at full back tonight, as he had very little defending to do. Sterner tests will follow for Antonio, as will the inevitable qeustions regarding his suitability for the role.
Sam endured a torried time in the first leg so it was pleasing to see him put in a solid performance tonight in an unfamiliar position.
Calm, assured and willing to put the boot in when required - just what you want from a centre half.
Another youngster to shine on the big night. The Ox was an able partner to the more experienced Reid but also capable of turning defence into attack with some delightful flighted dellveries.
Another player making his debut, the Norwegian had a fairly quiet first half but came alive in the second. He also showed some lovely footwork as the game reached its closing stages; another impressive start.
A classy performance from a very important player. Payet and Noble drew the plaudits last season but it was Kouyate that kept the midfield ticking over. Tonight he takes the acclaim for two goals that steered West Ham into the next round of the competition.
Solid and combative as per usual, his most notable contribution was the superb delivery for Feghouli's goal. Should be a shoo-in for Allarduce's next squad, at this rate.
The big man put himself about well and played an important role in both of Kouyate's goals. He still seems a little of the pace, thought that's not unusual at this stage of the season.
An impressive start for the winger, who may well have taken the Man of the Match award were it not for Kouyate's two-goal haul. He ran at Domzale's defence all night and was finally rewarded with a goal that sealed the win.
Whilst you can certainly question the ability, there can be no doubt that Valencia gave 100 per cent for West Ham tonight - the sort of attitude his former striker partner would do well to take note of.
Long linked with a move away from the club but given a positive reception upon his introduction by the crowd. Another who seems determined to work through his difficulties.
A nice little two-minute caneo to introduce him to the West Ham family.
See above, just for half the time...
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Referee: Fredy Fautrel.
Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.
West Ham United
Darren Randolph, Michail Antonio, Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, Havard Nordtveit, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Cheikhou Kouyate 8 Cheikhou Kouyate 22 Sofiane Feghouli 81 .
Booked: Michail Antonio Sofiane Feghouli Enner Valencia .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Marava, Brachi, Dobrovoljc, Horic, Balkovec, Morel, Horvat, Majer, Crnic, Alvir, Mance.
Substitutes: Husmani (Horvat 62), Juninho (Majer 77), Brantanovic (Mance 68).
Subs not used: Milic, Vetrih, Repas, Blazic.
Booked: Crnic, Balkovec, Horic.
Sent Off: None sent off..