West Ham lose ground on Premier League’s top four after chaotic defeat to Southampton – See Sport News

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Jan Bednarek celebrates after making it 3-2 to the Saints – GETTY IMAGES

As West Ham’s problems mount, their Champions League dreams fade. Having spent the past few weeks attempting to explain a goal drought that had seen his team drop out of the top four, David Moyes was left wondering how West Ham scored twice on Boxing Day yet still managed to lose at home to a Southampton side without a win in almost two months.

Having twice equalised after Southampton had gone ahead, they allowed Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men to stick their noses in front for a third time when Jan Bednarek scored the winner with 20 minutes remaining of a gripping second half.

It left West Ham with just one league win in seven, in addition to their midweek Carabao Cup exit, and wondering how it was that they were flying so high, so recently.

“I felt that when we got back into the game, certainly on the second occasion, there would only be one winner,” said Moyes. “We’ve got to stay strong, stay on the shirt tails of the teams above us when we can.

“Like everyone, you can have off days. I thought today’s was a poor one, but I thought we’d done enough to get ourselves back into the game and maybe turn a bad day into a good day. We just couldn’t quite see that through.”

The trouble for Moyes is that the off days are rising at an alarming rate, with defensive inadequacies now of greater concern than attacking issues. The manager has been dealt a difficult hand with first-choice defenders Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell out injured, and their understudies did little to impress here.

Southampton twice looked like adding to their league-high tally of 16 points dropped from winning positions this campaign, but managed to hold on for a first win since November 5.

Hasenhuttl has often faced doom and gloom on the south coast, but his side are now closer to West Ham in the table than the relegation zone.

Mohamed Elyounoussi is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the opener – GETTY IMAGES

“On every threat they put on the pitch today, we had the right answer,” he said. “We know that we always discuss about dropping points, but this is normal in football. The good thing is we are always in the lead, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. It was a very important win, an important three points.”

The sole moment of class in a dreary first half saw Southampton take an all too easy lead eight minutes into the game. Afforded all the time he desired high up the left flank, Kyle Walker-Peters opted to lay the ball off to Mohamed Elyounoussi, whose excellent left-footed drive through a host of players gave Lukasz Fabianski no chance.

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Frustrated by his side’s inability to create anything of note, Moyes later admitted he “could have changed four or five” players at half time. The two changes that he did make, bringing on Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini, had an immediate impact.

Four minutes into the second half, Michael Dawson nodded a corner back across goal and Antonio headed home from a couple of yards for his first goal in 10 games.

Suddenly the match burst into life. Southampton were back ahead soon after the hour when the impressive Armando Broja beat Issa Diop for pace and was on his way past Dawson as well, only to be brought crashing down. The Southampton centre-back’s initial shove outside the box appeared within the regulations, but Dawson then tumbled into Broja upon entering the penalty area to prompt huge appeals.

Referee Kevin Friend initially waved them away, but was told by the video assistant referee to re-watch the incident on the pitchside monitor and changed his mind. James Ward-Prowse’s resulting spot kick was emphatic.

This time, the lead lasted only three minutes. Tomas Soucek unleashed Jarrod Bowen, now operating on the right side of midfield, and he expertly picked out Said Benrahma on the edge of the six-yard box for a simple tap-in.

Still the drama continued. For all of West Ham’s second-half dominance, it was Southampton who again went ahead on 70 minutes. As is often the case, Ward-Prowse was the provider, whipping in a pinpoint free-kick, which Bednarek flicked into the far corner.

Mohammed Salisu of Southampton controls the ball whilst under pressure from Jarrod Bowen – Justin Setterfield/Getty

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