West Ham won their third Premier League game in a row, beating Aston Villa 2-1 after Ollie Watkins missed a late penalty and saw an injury-time equaliser ruled out by VAR for a very tight offside.
Angelo Ogbonna opened the scoring with an open header only 1 minute and 50 seconds into the game - West Ham's fastest Premier League goal since November 2016. Jarrod Bowen had provided the assist with a brilliant corner and he was involved once more a mere 29 seconds into the second half as half-time substitute Said Benrahma looped the ball into him to head home.
Both goals came as shock to a Villa side who otherwise dominated the game and created plenty of chances with the pace and trickery of Jack Grealish and Trezeguet. Unsurprisingly, it was Villa captain Grealish who equalised for the visitors with a deflected strike from range into the top-left corner in the 25th minute.
Watkins wasted the chance to equalise for a second time when he whacked the crossbar with his 74th-minute penalty after Trezeguet went to ground while having his shirt pulled by Declan Rice in the box. The striker then had a goal ruled out in the 91st minute when a lengthy VAR check deemed his arm was marginally offside.
That call meant West Ham held on to move up to fifth in the table, whereas Aston Villa fall to tenth. On Saturday the Hammers will play hosts to Manchester United and Villa are home to Newcastle the night before.
TALKING POINT - CAN VILLA OVERCOME INCONSISTENCY?
Aston Villa have become a team well-liked by neutral fans and it is easy to see why given the skill and dynamism of Grealish, Trezeguet and Ross Barkley along with youthful English talent like Watkins, Ezri Konsa and Matty Cash in addition to their maverick nature that often perhaps sees them simply try to outscore opponents instead of adopting a more cautious approach. Even though this was their first away loss of the season, they have now lost multiple times at home and it is confusing how a team can go from thrashing Liverpool 7-2 and defeating Arsenal 3-0 to then being on the receiving end of the latter scoreline against Leeds and losing to strugglers Brighton.
In terms of tonight's game and the Brighton match, Barkley's influence and partnership with Grealish has certainly been a big miss and it makes one wonder if Villa's inexperience is both a blessing and a curse. It means that they play without a fear but it can also hinder their consistency. No one in tonight's starting XI had played a full season of Premier League football before last season.
If Villa manage to keep this group of players together, continue to develop them and supplement them with key signings then they could challenge for Europe in future seasons but it is hard to see them finishing too high in the league this season if they cannot win more than two Premier League in games in a row. For now, just enjoy the rollercoaster!
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) - While it feels slightly odd choosing a player on the losing team as the man of the match, it is hard to think what more Grealish could have done to ensure Villa won apart from maybe score a wonder goal. Even that would be greedy given how much he contributed. It feels as if everything they do revolves around him and the five chances he created during the game, more than any other player tonight, is evidence of that. He also attempted seven dribbles, again more than any other player tonight, yet he was successful with all of them including one particular moment when he did an incredible turn and elastico to escape from being surrounded by four players before sending a great cross into the box. He is such a unique talent whose skill and work rate both cannot be faulted, and even though his goal took a slight deflection he still deserves the credit for getting into that position and taking the opportunity to shoot.
West Ham: Fabianski 7, Balbuena 7, Ogbonna 8, Cresswell 6, Coufal 6, Masuaku 6, Rice 5, Soucek 5, Fornals 5, Bowen 8, Antonio 5...Subs: Benrahma 7, Haller 6, Noble 5
Aston Villa: Martinez 5, Mings 5, Konsa 5, Targett 6, Cash 7, Hourihane 6, McGinn 5, Luiz 7, Trezeguet 6, Grealish 9, Watkins 5...Subs: El-Ghazi 6, Traore 6, Elmohamady 5
2' - GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Wow already?! Bowen whips in the free-kick and Ogbonna rises high to head past Martinez less than 2 minutes into the game! Martinez felt he was impeded but after a quick VAR check his complaints are quickly dismissed and that's the first time Villa have conceded away from home in the Premier League this season.
25' - A GOAL FROM NOTHING!! Grealish has truly sprung to life! He picks up the middle, drives past a couple of defenders to the edge of the box and while on the move strikes the ball into the top left corner. A slight deflection off Ogbonna helped it on its way but that's still outstanding from Grealish.
46' - GOOOOAAAALLL!! It's only 29 seconds into the second half and West Ham strike early again! Moyes' substitutions make an instant impact as Benrahma dinks the ball into the box for Bowen to head home and put the Hammers back in front.
63' - OH MY WORD!! How has Trezeguet not scored that?! Grealish pings a pass from deep to find Watkins on the counter. Instead of going for goal himself, he holds up the ball and squares it to the Egyptian international, who rushes in and scuffs his shot while off-balance. It was heading slightly wide but Fabianski saved it anyway. Trezeguet was completely unmarked though and had basically the whole goal at his mercy...still don't know how he missed.
72' - PENALTY TO VILLA!! Luiz skims a header into the box and Trezeguet would have been able to meet it but he's down due to Rice pulling his shirt. There's really not much in it but there's definite contact and Trezeguet even has blood on his face, perhaps from landing on Rice's studs.
74' - PENALTY MISSED!!! Watkins lets the Hammers off the hook as his penalty ricochets off the crossbar and the score stays at 2-1. Lots of power behind that one but it's not been a good performance from Watkins this evening and that sums it up really.
90+1' - GOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! Oh myyy!! Watkins makes amends for his penalty miss with a traditional striker's goal as he moves beyond the defender to score from Targett's cross.
90+3' - GOAL DISALLOWED!!! Well well well...the VAR debate is going to rage on once more. Watkins' arm is deemed to be slightly offside after a VAR check. This happened the other day with Pat Bamford I think and it's ridiculous because the arm obviously isn't a goalscoring part of the body, so why does it matter where it's positioned? Villa fans will rightfully be fuming.