West Ham United came out deserved 1-0 winners against Swansea City in the English Premier League at Upton Park on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce’s men dominated the affair, but it took a powerful header in the 77th minute from the returning Andy Carroll to settle the encounter.
Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel kept the hosts at bay with a string of high-quality saves.
With West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan announcing during the week an agreement has been reached with Liverpool for the permanent transfer of Carroll at the end of the season, Allardyce was able to start the on-loan front man for the first time since late November.
It was Carroll’s deployment as a focal point that engineered the game’s two best early chances, but Kevin Nolan and Mohamed Diame were unable to make much of their respective knockdowns.
As the half developed it was Tremmel who was the difference between the two teams, thwarting Nolan with two smart saves in quick succession – firstly with a close-range stop with his legs and secondly at full-stretch after the West Ham captain met Carroll’s smart header.
Tremmel intervened yet again to block Ricardo Vaz Te’s viciously driven, near-post effort before referee Lee Probert ended the home side’s momentum by blowing for half-time.
West Ham started the second half in much the same manner they finished the first and after carving a decent opening, Carroll could only blaze over following a neat exchange between Nolan and Matt Jarvis.
Swansea began to show signs of life with Michu spurning two decent half-chances before left-back Ben Davies denied Vaz Te with a well-timed sliding challenge in the area.
The home crowd’s frustration started to become evident when Tremmel blocked Carroll’s somewhat tame effort with his legs leading to Diame, in the same passage of play, wildly miscuing after attempting the acrobatic.
West Ham’s relentless pressure eventually paid dividends, with Carroll’s breakthrough coming in predictable fashion.
The England international rose highest to power home a Mark Noble corner with just over 15 minutes left.
The goal seemed to spark some life into Swansea yet Michael Laudrup’s side lacked the quality in the final third and West Ham held out to secure a narrow win.