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West Brom 0 West Ham 3: Noble brace boosts European hopes

Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble proved influential as West Ham boosted their Europa League qualifying hopes with a comfortable 3-0 win at West Brom.

Kouyate scored one and assisted another in Saturday’s contest at The Hawthorns, while captain Noble finished with a brace for the second Premier League match in succession.

West Brom had derailed Tottenham’s title ambitions with a 1-1 draw on Monday, but Tony Pulis’ men were unable to inflict similar damage on the Hammers’ European dreams.

Kouyate nodded in from Dimitri Payet’s excellent cross to put West Ham in front, before turning provider for Noble to make it 2-0 shortly prior to the break.

Noble then finished a fine team move to seal the points for Slaven Bilic’s men, with West Ham moving fifth above Manchester United, who host leaders Leicester City on Sunday, on goal difference.

A fifth-place finish would guarantee West Ham’s place in the Europa League group stage.

West Brom, who are 13th, had little riding on the outcome of the game and Pulis named Jonathan Leko in his XI, the teenager becoming the first player born in 1999 to start in the Premier League.

Leko demonstrated his abilities early on by bamboozling Aaron Cresswell and teeing up Craig Gardner, who saw two weak efforts blocked.

The ball then broke kindly for Gardner on the right of the area and his curling left-foot shot was brilliantly deflected wide by Michail Antonio.

Leko continued to impress and his cross sat up for Gardner, only for the former Sunderland man to head poorly wide.

West Ham settled into the match, though, and the visitors went in front in the 34th minute. 

Payet stayed onside down the right and his pin-point cross was headed home by the unmarked Kouyate.

And it was 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. Kouyate burst down the left and picked out Noble, whose first touch was heavy but his second was toe-poked past a helpless Ben Foster.

The second half maintained a frenetic pace, albeit with fewer chances, although superb defending from Angelo Ogbonna prevented Salomon Rondon meeting Gardner’s low centre.

West Brom substitute Sandro tried his luck with a low 25-yard effort that narrowly cleared the right-hand post.

But it was West Ham who had the final say as they wrapped up a convincing win, Payet doing brilliantly to find Andy Carroll out wide, with his teasing cross volleyed home by Noble.

Sat 30 Apr, 2016
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