|   | 

West Ham 2-0 Huddersfield: Slaven Bilic enjoys birthday slice of luck as Pedro Obiang's deflected opener and Andre Ayew strike ease the pressure

  • Pedro Obiang fired West Ham off the bottom with deflected opener to end Huddersfield's unbeaten start
  • Substitute Andre Ayew prodded in from close range to double Hammers' lead from Aaron Cresswell's corner 
  • Javier Hernandez came closest to breaking deadlock in first half but he struck the crossbar when well-placed
  • Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie received a kick to the face from Winston Reid but went unpunished
  • AS IT HAPPENED: Re-live the action as the Hammers recorded their first Premier League points of the season 

There may not be a scruffier goal scored this season but, right now, West Ham will take it. Beggars cannot be choosers, and West Ham had one hand out hoping for any scrap of good fortune against Huddersfield on Monday night.

David Wagner's Premier League first-timers boasted the meanest defence in the country going into this game, and with 72 minutes gone West Ham were struggling desperately to find a way through. And then, they caught a break. Well, actually, they caught three. 

They say fortune's always hiding in this corner of London, but it certainly popped its head around the door and said hello when the ball fell to Pedro Obiang. 

West Ham have lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premier League thanks to Pedro Obiang's fortuitous opening strike

West Ham have lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premier League thanks to Pedro Obiang's fortuitous opening strike

Obiang looked to curl his shot around Mathias Jorgensen but the ball deflected off the defender and looped into the net

Obiang looked to curl his shot around Mathias Jorgensen but the ball deflected off the defender and looped into the net

Andre Ayew was fastest to the rebound after Aaron Cresswell's corner ricocheted favourably off Jose Fonte into his path

Andre Ayew was fastest to the rebound after Aaron Cresswell's corner ricocheted favourably off Jose Fonte into his path

Slaven Bilic will be delighted with the victory in addition to a clean sheet following a difficult first month to the new season

Slaven Bilic will be delighted with the victory in addition to a clean sheet following a difficult first month to the new season

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS & PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE 

WEST HAM (3-4-3): Hart 6; Collins 6, Reid 6, Fonte 6; Zabaleta 6.5, Kouyate 6, Obiang 6.5 (Rice 90), Cresswell 6; Antonio 7.5, Carroll 7 (Sakho 82), Hernandez 6 (Ayew 64 6)

SUBS NOT USED: Adrian, Ogbonna, Byram, Masuaku

MANAGER: Slaven Bilic 6

BOOKED: Zabaleta

GOALS: Obiang (72), A Ayew (77)

HUDDERSFIELD (4-2-3-1): Lossl 6; Smith 6, Jorgensen 6, Schindler 6, Lowe 6 (Malone 63 6); Mooy 6, Billing 6 (Depoitre 83); Kachunga 6 (Sabiri 75), Ince 6, van La Parra 6; Mounie 6

SUBS NOT USED: Coleman, Williams, Hadergjonaj, Hefele

MANAGER: David Wagner 6

BOOKED: Jorgensen, Billing

MOTM: Antonio  

REFEREE: Kevin Friend 6

ATTENDANCE: 56,977 






Season at glance

  • Live tables
  • Fixtures
  • Scores
  • Premier League
  • Premier League
  • Championship
  • League One
  • League Two
  • Scottish Premiership
  • Scottish Div 1
  • Scottish Div 2
  • Scottish Div 3
  • Ligue 1
  • Serie A
  • La Liga
  • Bundesliga
  • More tables
  • More fixtures
  • More scores

Pedro Obiang gives West Ham the lead with a fortunate opener - CLICK HERE for more from our brilliant Match Zone

Pedro Obiang gives West Ham the lead with a fortunate opener – CLICK HERE for more from our brilliant Match Zone

Cheikhou Kouyate fed a pass in from the right to substitute Andrew Ayew, who in turn found Obiang. From 20 yards out he tried a shot which, it is fair to say, did not look capable of troubling goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. And then, the intervention of Huddersfield's human pinball machine made it a match-winner. 

First the ball clipped Christopher Schindler, then it hit the back of Mathias Jorgensen and this sent it in a high arc, over a despairing Lossl in goal. 

It still needed a nudge from the inside of a post to make sure, but that was enough to finally send it into the net. West Ham's stadium announcer immediately gave it to their man, but it may be one for the dubious goals panel. To be honest, if there is ludicrous goals panel they might want to have a look at it, too.

West Ham celebrated, however, as if blessed by a wonder from the boot of Lionel Messi, and good luck to them. On nights like this, it hardly matters how victory happens and it was not as if they did not deserve it. 

They were by far the better team, made the lion's share of chances, had the most dangerous player on the field in Michail Antonio and responded well to significant pressure.

This was a good night, too, for Slaven Bilic, their very likable manager. A draw would have been considered little better than defeat, despite Huddersfield's rugged reputation. And with one Premier League manager already gone, many were speculating Bilic could soon follow.

Hammers striker Javier Hernadez was guilty of missing the best chance of the opening 45 minutes as he hit the crossbar

Hammers striker Javier Hernadez was guilty of missing the best chance of the opening 45 minutes as he hit the crossbar

Hernandez looked well set to score from close range and even he couldn't believe he missed such a clear-cut opportunity

Hernandez looked well set to score from close range and even he couldn't believe he missed such a clear-cut opportunity 

Michail Antonio was West Ham's best player in the opening period as he made frequent runs down the right channel

Michail Antonio was West Ham's best player in the opening period as he made frequent runs down the right channel

Referee Kevin Friend speaks to Terriers captain Tommy Smith and West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate during an uneventful half

Referee Kevin Friend speaks to Terriers captain Tommy Smith and West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate during an uneventful half

So this was vindication for him, too. When in the 65th minute he replaced Javier Hernandez, who had worked hard to little effect, with Ayew, a section of the crowd booed his decision. 

It is not just the board that put managers under enormous pressure here. So it was fitting that, having had a hand in the first goal, Ayew should then score the second, the one that as good as confirmed victory – even if Tom Ince did hit the bar for Huddersfield late on.

Again, it wasn't the most beautiful goal, but few cared for the aesthetics. Aaron Cresswell curled in a corner which Jose Fonte bundled towards goal and Ayew prodded in. For Bilic, on his 49th birthday, it was better that any surprise, cake or present. 

The evening ended with the home support serenading him with 'Happy birthday to you' and the league table makes a finer sight this morning. West Ham are off the bottom, if not out of the relegation places, but three points is better than the giant zero the club has been looking at since the campaign began. The pressure eases a little at least – even if the next match is away at West Brom, who are always difficult.

It was good news, too, for goalkeeper Joe Hart – his first clean sheet in a club match since January 8, for Torino at Sassuolo, a run of 23 matches. Knowing how furious goalkeepers feel at conceding it must have been hell for him. 

He didn't have much to do on Monday night but, what he did, was accomplished. It took 54 minutes for Huddersfield to have a significant shot on target but, when it came, Hart was equal to the effort from Philip Billing.

The last time West Ham played Huddersfield was a League Cup tie in 1997 – Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand started, and John Hartson scored a hat-trick – and the last time they were in the same division was 1971-72 season. Under normal circumstances, West Ham would expect to win this fixture at home, but this encounter felt anything but normal.

The downpour in the first half at the London Stadium did little to lift the gloom after three defeats on the road for the hosts

The downpour in the first half at the London Stadium did little to lift the gloom after three defeats on the road for the hosts

Under-fire Hammers boss Bilic trudges along the touchline anxiously as he watches his side labour in the first half

Under-fire Hammers boss Bilic trudges along the touchline anxiously as he watches his side labour in the first half

Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie received a kick to the face from Winston Reid after a weekend of similar flashpoints

Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie received a kick to the face from Winston Reid after a weekend of similar flashpoints

Mounie reacts after being kicked in the face by the New Zealand international and he required treatment after the high boot

Mounie reacts after being kicked in the face by the New Zealand international and he required treatment after the high boot

Referee Friend opted not to punish Reid for the challenge reminiscent of the one committed by Sadio Mane and Matt Ritchie

Referee Friend opted not to punish Reid for the challenge reminiscent of the one committed by Sadio Mane and Matt Ritchie

Bilic was booed by sections of West Ham supporters after deciding to withdraw Hernandez for Andre Ayew after 65 minutes

Bilic was booed by sections of West Ham supporters after deciding to withdraw Hernandez for Andre Ayew after 65 minutes

The Mexico striker had come close to scoring but faded in the contest before he was hooked with 25 minutes remaining

The Mexico striker had come close to scoring but faded in the contest before he was hooked with 25 minutes remaining

Obiang received Ayew's pass before firing at goal but his effort may well have been veering wide of the left-hand post

Obiang received Ayew's pass before firing at goal but his effort may well have been veering wide of the left-hand post

The substitute then added to his assist by prodding his side further in front after the ball broke loose inside the Terriers' box

The substitute then added to his assist by prodding his side further in front after the ball broke loose inside the Terriers' box

Ayew can barely contain his joy at having made an instant impact off the substitutes' bench despite jeers from the supporters

Ayew can barely contain his joy at having made an instant impact off the substitutes' bench despite jeers from the supporters

The worry going into the game was Crystal Palace. Not that by changing Frank De Boer they may spark an upturn in form and pull away from the relegation zone, more that despite having the worst start of any top flight club since Preston North End in 1924-25, they were still not bottom of the league. While not setting any Premier League records, going into this match, West Ham had somehow done worse.

So this performance was better, much better, than many expected, certainly those arriving at the London Stadium in trepidation. 

West Ham made decent use of Andy Carroll, playing his first game since April, and in Antonio had a lively, dangerous, presence. On several occasions, he skinned Chris Lowe, in Huddersfield's left-back position, who was removed after 63 minutes. By then, West Ham had already done enough to be leading comfortably.

That they did not was down to some rotten finishing and close shaves, ensuring the locals remained on tenterhooks. Just two minutes had elapsed when West Ham forged the first good chance of the game. 

Aaron Cresswell, who saw plenty of the ball on the overlap and appears to have been given Dimitri Payet's responsibilities from corners and free-kicks, played Carroll in and his shot across the face of goal narrowly eluded Kouyate stretching at the far post.

The best chance came after 13 minutes, set up by Antonio on the right. He sped past Lowe, moved inside and cut the ball back to Hernandez, in an excellent position 12 yards out. He had to lift the ball, with Huddersfield men diving in to block, but even under such pressure should have done better – his shot flying up and ricocheting off the bar.

Carroll and Antonio had good efforts deflected, James Collins forced a save from Lossl and Kouyate shot wide from a good position, but Huddersfield continued to resist. 

It is to West Ham's credit that they never succumbed to the tension, and there will be optimism with Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini still to return. A period of quiet may also be helpful, from everybody at the club. They know who they are.

Carroll looked one of the likeliest to break the deadlock in a first half in which West Ham created 13 chances to score

Carroll looked one of the likeliest to break the deadlock in a first half in which West Ham created 13 chances to score

Aaron Cresswell sends his free-kick into orbit with the full-back no closer to breaking his 17-month wait to score another goal

Aaron Cresswell sends his free-kick into orbit with the full-back no closer to breaking his 17-month wait to score another goal

Andy Carroll certainly put himself about the pitch in his first Premier League appearance of the season on Monday night

Andy Carroll certainly put himself about the pitch in his first Premier League appearance of the season on Monday night

Veteran defender Pablo Zabaleta was very energetic from full-back and received a blow to the face in first-half stoppage time

Veteran defender Pablo Zabaleta was very energetic from full-back and received a blow to the face in first-half stoppage time

Veteran centre-back James Collins rises to get his head on Aaron Cresswell's corner but he could not direct the ball on goal

Veteran centre-back James Collins rises to get his head on Aaron Cresswell's corner but he could not direct the ball on goal

Huddersfield manager David Wagner looks to cajole his team after withstanding heavy pressure amid a hostile atmosphere

Huddersfield manager David Wagner looks to cajole his team after withstanding heavy pressure amid a hostile atmosphere

The two set of players walk out onto the pitch ahead of the first Premier League fixture at the London Stadium on Monday

The two set of players walk out onto the pitch ahead of the first Premier League fixture at the London Stadium on Monday

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

related articles

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

SUBSCRIBE

quotes

Everyone went outside to smoke cloves and bitch about having to stay after for the State.

Jon Stewart on events following Charles — January 19, 1999