West Ham United 2, Huddersfield Town 0
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic admitted his relief after his team eased the pressure on him by beating Huddersfield and climbing off the bottom of the Premier League on Monday night.
Two goals in the last 20 minutes, the first a deflected Pedro Obiang shot and the second Andre Ayew’s close-range effort, earned the Hammers their first points of the season.
Bilic has cut a beleaguered figure in the first month of the campaign, with poor results and a public disagreement with West Ham co-owner David Sullivan feeding uncertainty over his future.
“Of course we are happy. I am happy for the lads and the whole club. It was a very important game for us. We started with three away games and three defeats and this was a must-win game,” he said.
“It wasn’t a nice performance but it was a top performance in all other stuff: second balls, determination, closing down, getting balls in, getting corners and free-kicks. We totally deserved it.
“I feel the pressure for a whole year now, it didn’t start today. Although for me it’s not logical to be under the pressure after three games only, it is modern football and of course I felt the pressure.”
Bilic highlighted his team’s growing affinity for the London Stadium after this, a delayed first home fixture, owing to its staging of the World Athletics Championships last month.
“We are feeling that this stadium is now like our proper home,” added the Croatian, who was celebrating his 49th birthday. “It will never be Upton Park of course but it’s becoming our home more and more.”
Injury-plagued striker Andy Carroll’s return to the side lifted West Ham and prompted a more direct approach which almost paid off in the second minute when he drilled a shot across the goalmouth.
Summer signing Javier Hernandez and winger Michail Antonio played off target man Carroll and the Mexico livewire almost put the hosts in front on 13 minutes when he rattled the bar from Antonio’s cut-back.
It took until the 72nd minute for Obiang to make the breakthrough, his hopeful shot from 20 yards taking a huge deflection off defender Mathias Jorgensen and looping past scrambling goalkeeper Jonas Loessl.
Five minutes later substitute Ayew confirmed Huddersfield’s first defeat back in the top flight. Jose Fonte tried to bundle in Aaron Cresswell’s corner and the former Swansea forward prodded in the loose ball.