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Pedro Obiang’s heavily deflected goal was the moment of luck West Ham needed to set them on the way to their first points of the Premier League season as Huddersfield suffered their first defeat.
The Hammers, whose manager Slaven Bilic was under pressure after three successive league defeats, were below par – although the visitors offered little threat.
Javier Hernandez hit the bar in the first half, in one of West Ham’s few clear-cut chances.
The breakthrough came in the 72nd minute when Obiang’s 25-yard strike hit Mathias Jorgensen’s back and looped over keeper Jonas Lossl.
It was the first goal that Huddersfield – or Lossl – have conceded in their first season back in the top flight.
And the second came five minutes later when substitute Andre Ayew – whose introduction for Hernandez was booed by West Ham’s fans – turned the ball home from three yards out.
Huddersfield’s major opportunity came with 10 minutes left as Thomas Ince hit the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Birthday boss Bilic eases some pressure with win
Bilic came into the game under plenty of pressure after the Hammers had conceded 10 goals in their opening three league games.
And the Croat, celebrating his 49th birthday, has also had public disagreements with the club’s owners over their failure to sign his key target William Carvalho, as well as Renato Sanches and Grzegorz Krychowiak.
On their first game at home this season – with London Stadium not initially ready following the World Athletics Championships – the Hammers did not look great.
Andy Carroll made his first appearance this season following a thigh injury, with Mexico striker Hernandez having to move out to the wing to make space for the target man.
Hernandez was quiet – although Michail Antonio was excellent on the other flank.
The Hammers’ finishing was poor – with Cheikhou Kouyate, James Collins, Jose Fonte and Antonio all squandering chances.
And it looked as if criticism of Bilic would grow when the replacement of Hernandez with Ayew was met with boos from the home crowd.
But it was actually a match-winning substitution. Ayew set up Obiang’s goal and then poked home after Fonte’s shot from Aaron Cresswell’s corner was blocked.
Huddersfield brought back down to earth
The Terriers had enjoyed an excellent start to their maiden Premier League season, their first in the top flight since 1971-72, winning two and drawing one.
Perhaps the international break came at a bad time because they put in their worst performance of the fledgling season.
Against a team out of form, they did not play with the usual energy and dynamic attacking play they had shown so far under boss David Wagner.
Despite having more of the ball and completing more passes, they only forced Joe Hart to make two saves, with both efforts from outside the box – via Philip Billing and Steve Mounie.
‘We were not good enough’ – manager reaction
Huddersfield boss David Wagner on BBC Radio 5 live: “Unfortunately it was a deserved defeat. We were not good today especially with the ball.
“In defence we worked and fought, even if the goal was unlucky. We have to be honest that we were not good enough with the ball – not confident enough or brave enough.
“This is the Premier League and in the Premier League it is so difficult to keep clean sheets. We had the chance to keep one today. The goals were unlucky, but our performance was not good enough.
“If everyone was on it like [defender] Christopher Schindler was today, we would have had a better chance to get a result. We had seven or eight players not on it. We will learn from it.”
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, speaking to BBC Sport: “I am really pleased with how we acted in a difficult situation. After three defeats your confidence is a bit down but the lads did everything we asked from them.
“We had a game plan and from the first moment we were on the front foot. We stopped them from creating anything. We got our reward, a little bit lucky for the first goal but overall we deserved it.
“I said even if we did not win the game I would have been pleased with the performance of the guys because we had done everything.
“The first goal was at a crucial time because we had lost the momentum a little bit and that brought us back into a good zone.”
Match facts – Hart ends clean-sheet drought
- West Ham scored twice in this game, as many as in their previous four home league games combined.
- Huddersfield are the last team in this season’s Premier League to concede a goal, after 342 minutes of action.
- The Hammers have now kept four clean sheets in their past five top-flight home games.
- Andre Ayew has been directly involved in four goals in his past five Premier League games [a goal and assist v Huddersfield and a goal and assist v Burnley last May].
- Andy Carroll won 13 aerial duels in the game, the most of any player in a Premier League game this season.
- West Ham scored with two of their three shots on target in the game.
- Huddersfield have won just two of their past seven away league games (D1 L4).
Man of the match – Michail Antonio
West Ham – who remain in the relegation zone on goal difference – visit West Brom on Saturday (15:00 BST). Huddersfield, who remain sixth, host Leicester City at the same time.
London News & Search