BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — West Ham recorded its first points and first goal of the Premier League season with a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday.
Pablo Fornals’ deflected second-half strike was enough to see the Hammers open their account for the top flight campaign after losses to Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Brighton.
That will ease some of the pressure on West Ham coach David Moyes but increase the tension for counterpart Steven Gerrard, whose side were booed off at full time.
Villa thought it had taken the lead in the 14th minute but Ezri Konsa's goal was disallowed as Lucas Digne’s corner kick had gone fractionally out of play.
Ollie Watkins was a constant threat for Villa in the opening exchanges and saw one shot deflected behind by Kurt Zouma before another tame header was easy for Lukasz Fabianski in the visitors’ goal.
For all the huffing and puffing of Gerrard’s side, they had little to show in terms of clear chances with West Ham weathering the storm. Gianluca Scamacca, on his first Premier League start, helped out defensively by heading over a dangerous free kick from Douglas Luiz.
Moyes was forced to bring off Ben Johnson at halftime due to injury and made another change for the second half with Said Benrahma introduced in place of debutant Emerson Palmieri, which saw the Hammers switch back to their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
It immediately improved their display and the visitors should have scored in the 56th.
Fornals played Jarrod Bowen through after John McGinn’s slip but the England international hesitated on the ball and Digne produced a superb sliding tackle after good initial work by fellow full-back Matty Cash.
A neat one-two between Tomas Soucek and Scamacca saw the latter test Villa 'keeper Emiliano Martinez just past the hour mark but the Italian was withdrawn for Michail Antonio soon after.
The Hammers remained the side in the ascendency and, with 16 minutes remaining, Fornals opened the scoring at Villa Park.
Zouma brought the ball forward and found captain Declan Rice, who picked out Fornals and the Spaniard’s 25-yard effort deflected off Konsa and looped over Martinez to put West Ham ahead.
Villa attempted to respond quickly and Cash curled over but Gerrard's side was consigned to a third defeat of the season. Villa is level with West Ham on three points after four games.
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The Associated Press