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Stoke City 0-3 West Ham Utd

Filed: Saturday, 16th December 2017
By: Staff Writer

It's taken 17 games and four months to get there, but West Ham finally have a Premier League away win in season 2017/18.

In the end, United's hard-fought 3-0 victory at the bet365 Stadium could have been even more comprehensive, as Stoke's leaky defence crumbled in a second half performance not dissimilar to the kind of which Hammers fans were treated to until recently.

The sort that ultimately cost Slaven Bilic his job, and leaves City boss Mark Hughes clinging to his by a thread tonight.

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As it was, David Moyes' rejuvenated side had to settle for goals from Mark Noble (penalty), the returning Marko Arnautovic and substitute Diafra Sakho in order to secure a win that lifts them out of the relegation zone for the first time in several weeks.

The captain's opener - fired home from the penalty spot just 16 minutes before he was forced to retire through injury - saw the Hammers take an early lead, from which Stoke were never able to recover. However the circumstances that led to it were somewhat controversial.

With 19 minutes on the clock, Ryan Shawcross met a Stoke free kick with a header that beat Adrian, but not his post. West Ham countered swiftly and were awarded a penalty when Lanzini went to ground, although contact appeared to be minimal, at best.

Referee Graham Scott, perfectly positioned felt otherwise however and awarded a penalty - struck home fiercely by Noble with trademark accuracy and power.

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Although Potters boss Hughes may have had plenty of reason to feel aggrieved by that particular decision, he failed to address the tactical shortcomings that led to the opportunity and in the end, that incident was just a sample of what was to come.

Whilst they managed to remain in the game at just one goal behind until the 75th minute, this was due as much to West Ham's profligacy as City's error-prone defence, patched together following a string of recent injuries.

Most culpable for West Ham was Marko Arnautovic, who missed three golden chances to add that all-important second goal - leading to chants of "what a waste of money" from the Stoke supporters. Chants that were promptly extinguished when the on-fire Austrian finally got his reward for an industrious afternoon, firing his shot through 'keeper Jack Butland's legs.

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By this point, the Hammers were having fun - and perhaps for the first time this season, fans were treated to a glimpse of what a confident, in-form team can produce. In the end David Moyes' well-drilled side, delivering a third consecutive clean sheet could have racked up six or seven as they produced arguably their best all-round league performance of the season.

The victory was completed by a Diafra Sakho goal four minutes from the end of normal time, as man of the match Lanzini - who'd already won the penalty and had a hand in Arnautovic's goal - played a delicious one-two with the Senegal international, who finished calmly to Butland's left side.

The victory takes West Ham above West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United, Bournemouth and today's opponents into 15th place - and crucially out of the drop zone for the first time since new manager Moyes, who deserves considerable credit for arresting the slide, replaced Bilic last month.

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West Ham Utd: Adrian, Zabaleta, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku, Noble (Rice 35), Obiang, Lanzini, Arnautovic (Hernandez), Antonio (Sakho 68).

Subs not used: Hart, Makasi, Haksabanovic, Ayew.

Goals: Noble (pen 19), Arnautovic (75), Sakho (86).

Booked: Masuaku (60).

Stoke City: Butland, Cameron, Shawcross, Wimmer, Pieters (Tymon 63), Shaqiri, Fletcher (Adam 62), Allen, Ramadan, Diouf (Berahino 62), Crouch.

Subs not used: Grant, Choupo-Moting, Ngoy, Edwards.

Booked: Wimmer (24), Shawcross (49).

Referee: Graham Scott.

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