West Ham climb out of relegation zone as Saints stay bottom
West Ham climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone as Nayef Aguerd’s first goal for the club sealed a crucial 1-0 win against fellow strugglers Southampton on Sunday.
David Moyes’ side kicked off at the London Stadium languishing second bottom of the table, with Southampton in last place.
But Morocco defender Aguerd’s maiden goal since signing from French club Rennes last year lifted the Hammers up to 14th.
West Ham are just one point above the relegation zone, but they have a little breathing space thanks to their first win in three league games.
On the day Leicester sacked Brendan Rodgers after their slump into the bottom three, Hammers boss Moyes must have breathed a sigh of relief when the final whistle blew on a result that may have saved his job.
Southampton remain bottom of the table and sit three points from safety after their winless run reached four games.
Moyes has endured calls for his sacking throughout a troubled season and there was a palpable sense of tension among West Ham fans throughout a scrappy encounter befitting two teams fighting for their lives.
The grumbling in the stands grew louder after Southampton’s Theo Walcott sauntered through for a shot that flashed just wide.
Boos reigned down again when Thilo Kehrer’s safety-first back pass drew an especially vitriolic response.
Aguerd eased the mounting anxiety in the 25th minute as the Morocco defender rose to power a header past Gavin Bazunu from Kehrer’s free-kick.
The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but after an interminable VAR check that lasted over three minutes, Aguerd was finally able to celebrate.
West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was playing his first game since February 25 after suffering a fractured cheekbone and eye socket.
Fabianski’s return proved significant as he made a superb save to repel Romain Perraud’s drive moments after Aguerd’s opener.
Jarrod Bowen almost doubled West Ham’s lead on the stroke of half-time when the winger’s curler from the edge of the area cannoned back off the bar.
Bowen was inches wide with a rising strike from an acute angle early in the second half.
Fabianski preserved West Ham’s advantage as he saved long-range efforts from Romeo Lavia and Carlos Alcaraz.
Said Benrahma’s 25-yard free-kick forced an agile stop from Bazunu, but Southampton nearly equalised in the final minutes when James Ward-Prowse’s cross was headed against the bar by Paul Onuachu.
In Sunday’s other match, Newcastle will seek to avenge their League Cup final defeat against Manchester United as the race for top four places heats up.
Newcastle lost 2-0 to United at Wembley in their first major final appearance in 24 years earlier this season.
Eddie Howe’s fifth placed team will move above third placed United and fourth placed Tottenham with a victory at St James’ Park.