West Ham United vs Brentford. Premier League.
Free highlights and match report as West Ham suffer fifth consecutive Premier League defeat at the hands of Brentford, who were in cruise control by half-time thanks to goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva; Toney was replaced in stoppage time with knee injury
Saturday 31 December 2022 07:13, UK
Brentford rose to ninth in the Premier League as first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Da Silva inflicted a fifth consecutive defeat on West Ham in a 2-0 win at the London Stadium.
There was a poignant minute's applause for Pele prior to kick-off with the Brazilian Lucas Paqueta leading the tributes on the centre circle but the playmaker and his team-mates looked out of sorts as Brentford raced into a 2-0 half-time lead.
Toney poked the Bees ahead in the 18th minute after West Ham failed to deal with a long throw. Dasilva made it 2-0 with a composed finish with two minutes left of the half and West Ham were booed off at the break.
David Raya, in the Brentford goal, was not overly worked as a second-half rally failed to materialise meaning West Ham trudged off amid swathes of empty seats and slip below Everton into 17th place on goal difference ahead of the weekend's remaining fixtures.
Brentford's night ended on a sour note, however, as Toney was carried off on a stretcher after appearing to jar his knee when defending a late corner.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank said on the injury: "Hopefully it's good. I don't exactly know how he will be for the Liverpool game in three days' time. It's unlikely that he would come off unless it is something. It could be a little worse. It's never a good sign but we don't know enough yet."
West Ham: Fabianski (6), Dawson (6), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (4), Coufal (5), Rice (6), Lucas Paqueta (5), Emerson Palmieri (6), Bowen (6), Benrahma (5), Scamacca (5).
Subs: Antonio (6), Soucek (n/a).
Brentford: Raya (7), Jorgensen (7), Pinnock (7), Mee (7), Roerslev (7), Jensen (8), Norgaard (8), Dasilva (7), Henry (7), Toney (9), Mbeumo (6).
Subs: Wissa (6), Ghoddos (6), Jansson (n/a), Janelt (6).
Man of the match: Ivan Toney.
Boos greeted the final whistle from the home supporters with West Ham suffering a fifth straight loss for the first time since April 2017 under Slaven Bilic's stewardship. David Moyes, meanwhile, has lost five consecutive league games for the first time since October 2005 with Everton.
"I only want the best for West Ham because it's been a great club for me and the club has done well," Moyes said. "We've taken it into a better place than it was before. I'm determined and desperate to keep it there. I don't want them to be dragged back down so I'm hoping we can get ourselves away from where we are."
Brentford make the short trip back across London with another derby victory in their back pocket, but this was soured in the closing stages as Toney landed awkwardly defending a set-piece, catching his studs in the turf with lengthy treatment leading to his inevitable withdrawal.
Brentford did the league double over the Hammers last season - prevailing late on through a Yoane Wissa strike here in October 2021 - but the hosts made the brighter start and were denied the opener inside two minutes when Declan Rice's rasping effort from range kissed the outside of the post. The Bees were shaken further when Craig Dawson lost Ben Mee at Jarrod Bowen's corner but the centre-back's header was glanced just wide.
It felt only a matter of time before the Hammers stole a march as Bowen was next to have a shot on the turn deflected wide off Mathias Jorgensen - but against the run of play, it was Brentford who struck.
Mathias Jensen's throw-in was flicked on by Ethan Pinnock and after Lukasz Fabianski kept out Christian Norgaard's hooked shot, Toney was on hand to prod home from close range.
It was Toney's 20th Premier League goal of 2022 - becoming only the fourth Englishman in the past 10 years to reach the milestone in a calendar year after Harry Kane, Jermain Defoe and Jamie Vardy.
The goal drained the London Stadium of atmosphere but it emboldened Brentford's defensive rearguard as Mee threw himself at a Bowen shot and Gianluca Scamacca headed tamely at Raya.
The home side continued to patiently probe as Angelo Ogbonna dug out a pass inside the box for Emerson to fire through the bodies but Raya firmly batted his near-post shot away, and Brentford doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time. It all seemed fairly innocuous as Toney flicked on a Jorgensen throw in only for Dasilva to muscle Aaron Cresswell out of possession to tuck his finish inside the far post.
Brentford entered the game unbeaten from each of the previous 17 occasions they had scored the opening goal in the Premier League - while they had won 10 of 11 games they had been leading by two - the one exception being the 2-2 draw with Tottenham four days ago.
The Hammers very nearly made the perfect start to the second period as referee Darren England pointed to the spot after Bowen was wiped out by Mee but VAR came to Brentford's rescue as replays showed the challenge occurred just outside the box.
It wasn't until the 64th minute that Moyes made his first change as Michail Antonio replaced Emerson, moving Said Benrahma to the left of midfield with a more direct approach now a necessity.
Brentford were closing in on consecutive away Premier League wins for only a third time in their history and after Frank turned to his bench to summon Saman Ghoddos, the Iranian midfielder reacted to Toney's blocked free-kick to arrow a shot towards the bottom corner, denied by the sprawling Fabianski.
It kept the door slightly ajar for West Ham as Scamacca smartly took Paqueta's pass to turn Pinnock and almost surprise Raya, with the Spaniard preserving his clean sheet. Dawson rose to meet Bowen's corner but Raya would not be beaten.
"I don't think we're low on confidence as I think there have been some good bits," Moyes said afterwards. "I thought this was the best we've played here for a while, but I understand you start to drain the confidence if you're not scoring goals, taking your chances and the opposition are.
"I feel we've been playing average by my standard and we've got a few levels to go. At the moment, that average isn't getting us results. We have to get better than average and I felt tonight we were. We're trying to improve it and we're trying to find ways. Tonight, we just couldn't find any goals."
While West Ham close 2022 with a poor run of form, for upwardly mobile Brentford, their only concern right now is the well-being of their talisman.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank: "It was a fantastic away win. Us being able to come here, sometimes it can just click against some opponents but for Brentford to win three straight times against West Ham is incredible. Goals change momentum as they started better than us.
"They had one or two good chances before we scored, which changed the momentum. We had been rubbish on the ball and had thrown away possession too many times. The Premier League is about taking your moments and we did that. In the second half we were much better and it was closer to 3-0 than 2-1.
"The team played well against Tottenham but we wanted to bring a little bit of freshness into the team. There was a good calmness and the players were composed in their defensive positions.
"I always want more and I always want us to improve. I'm already disappointed with the first-half performance. In terms of the position in the table, I try not to focus on that. My focus is on beating Liverpool. I'll have a glass of wine tonight and look and think, it's not bad, but we cannot get complacent.
"To everyone involved in the club, it's been a fantastic 2022. We started it by beating Aston Villa and end it by beating West Ham. Two big clubs. We should enjoy the moment and try to fly against Liverpool."
West Ham boss David Moyes: "We played well tonight but we got sucker-punched by a couple of throw-ins in the first half. We've spoken before about not having enough quality in the final third. We've spoken before about not scoring enough goals. It's become a theme. We dominated the ball but we couldn't create enough chances. Declan hits the post, Dawson came close and then we had the penalty overturned. We needed something to go our way.
"We tried a change of personnel and tactics tonight. We've tried to find a way through to get a result out of it. I thought we were the better team and we had to alter to find a goal which is why we probably didn't use the ball so well in the second half. I felt we earned a bit of luck the way we went about our job. The players kept on going and tried to score but from me there would only be praise for them. We're failing in the final third.
"You have to give Brentford credit for how they worked the long throw so it's up to me to find ways of defending better. I think the fans have been very good. I thought tonight the fans were very good because I think they thought their team played well."
When pressed on whether he thinks the club are in a relegation battle, Moyes added: "I'm hoping it's not the case but I've been on the end of a couple of home defeats here so we have to be aware we have to pick up points somewhere. It's disappointing we've not picked up any.
"We tried to change it and play better tonight. I don't think it's unfair to say I'm under pressure because it's the business that we're in. If you go five games in which you've not won, you're always going to come under pressure. It's football, so you feel bad whether you lose two games in a row or five."
Through Ivan Toney's opener, Brentford scored their fourth Premier League goal directly following a throw-in since the beginning of last season, as many as every other side combined.
|Bonus points||Toney (3), Raya (2), Pinnock (1)|
West Ham visit Leeds on Wednesday January 4 at Elland Road in the Premier League; kick-off 7.45pm. Brentford host Liverpool on Monday January 2, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm.