West Ham United clinched three crucial points in their quest to finish in the top four after defeating Aston Villa 2-1. David Moyes’ side struggled to break the opposition defense, but goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Pablo Fornals in the second half were enough to earn the victory and keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
The game was very tight in the first half as both keepers made some brilliant saves to keep the score to 0-0. However, substitute Yarmolenko came on to give West Ham the lead after some good work inside the box. As Villa looked for an equalizer, West Ham took advantage of sloppy defending, and Fornals slotted past Martinez to double the advantage. Villa defenders left plenty of space in the box for the Spaniard to exploit and easily take his shot from his weaker left foot. Saïd Benrahma, in the process, registered two assists. Aston Villa did pull one goal back after Jacob Ramsey’s perfectly placed effort, but the goal only seemed to be a consolation.
Let’s take a look at the three best performances for the Hammers:
Fabianski made a fantastic save to deny Coutinho in the first period and was on hand to make some more smart stops to keep the score intact. Later on, he also saved a close-range Emiliano Buendia shot and produced a stunning save to tip an Ings effort onto the post. Aston Villa attempted a total of 12 shots on goal and had four on target. Fabianski made three brilliant saves to keep the scoreline in favor of the Hammers but had no chance of saving Ramsey’s effort. All in all, it was a great performance from the keeper as the saves he made before West Ham scored a goal turned out to be the game-changer.
While many West Ham attackers struggled for form, Benrahma decided this was his day to shine. The Algerian was lively throughout the game and put in two assists for his teammates. He was a lively presence, constantly looking to receive and move West Ham into dangerous areas. The above visual shows us the pass map for Benrahma. He played on the left flank for West Ham and generated an xT of 0.46 from his passes and 0.057 from the dribbles he attempted. The pass map shows us the passes that generated the highest xT in dark red.
What a superb moment for the Ukraine international! He was an instant impact in the game and looked very lively since he came on. To play football with all that is going on is incredible, and he was excellent when he came on, working tirelessly, dropping deep well, and his touch and finish were sublime. Yarmolenko attempted two shots on goal and had one shot on target, which he converted. He generated an xG of 0.38.