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Aston Villa 0-1 West Ham: Pablo Fornals win David Moyes’ squad their first points of the season

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You could see this coming from miles away. The fact that Aston Villa was powerless to prevent this should give birth to Steven Gerrard’s life.

Scoring when you’re in the plus, that’s what the best teams do.

Villa could not. West Ham, on the other hand, does. Therefore, the Hammers left the Midlands with all three points.

Pablo Fornals’ second half strike gave West Ham their first goal and first points of the season

The Spanish attacker's goal in the 74th minute came thanks to a huge deflection from Ezri Konsa

The Spanish attacker’s goal in the 74th minute came thanks to a huge deflection from Ezri Konsa

Yes, the winner was a coincidence – Pablo Fornals’ shot made a bad deflection from Ezri Konsa before going over Emi Martinez.

But who will remember that? David Moyes certainly won’t care – his team’s first goal of the season heralds their first points.

With those two monkeys on their backs, West Ham’s pressure is off as they face Tottenham on Wednesday with a jump in their stride.

West Ham had been out of the game for most of the first 45 minutes

West Ham had been out of the game for most of the first 45 minutes

Emiliano Martinez didn't stand a chance after the deflection carried the ball away from him

Emiliano Martinez didn’t stand a chance after the deflection carried the ball away from him

You can’t say the same for Villa. The booing that reverberated around Villapark full-time told its own story.

Gerrard, head bowed, trudged disconsolately back through the tunnel. Pressure is mounting for the Liverpool legend after three defeats in four Premier League games so far.

Questions are starting to be asked by the Villa fans, sooner or later they will demand answers and solutions.

Next one? Only leader Arsenal, the only top club with a record of 100 percent.

Was Villa unlucky? Yes maybe. They were good in the first half; not great – but they certainly showed enough to at least claim they deserved a halftime lead.

Their biggest mistake was the lack of a killer instinct when the game looked set to take the first half.

And West Ham, presumably after a elated half-time from Moyes, came into the second half with greater momentum – you knew how this game would end.

If there is anything positive for Gerrard that he can take out of this defeat, it is his team’s opening 45 minutes.

The ironic cries of ‘we’ve had a chance’ from West Ham supporters in the 42nd minute, when Fornals defused the Hammers’ first try in the first half, summed up Villa’s dominance.

Without the injured Douglas Costa, who has only recently started his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury, and Tyrone Mings, absent due to illness, you could sense the anxiety of Villa fans before kick-off.

Calum Chambers stepped in and took his place alongside Konsa at the heart of Villa’s defence.

West Ham’s £30.5 million signing Gianluca Scamacca, who made his first Premier League start, must have licked his lips.

Instead, it was Villa that was most threatening.

Phillippe Coutinho was at the center of it all, the Brazil international had one afternoon when he looked like he was playing a very different sport to everyone around him.

Villa had the ball in the net in the 13th minute when Konsa tapped the back post after Coutinho’s header bounced off the post after a corner from Lucas Digne.

However, Digne’s throwing throw had crept out of play before coming back in and the goal was correctly disallowed.

Ollie Watkins, who gave Thilo Kehrer a lot of trouble on Villa’s left, went into the arms of Lukasz Fabianski after a mesmerizing combination play between Coutinho and Douglas Luiz before Scamacca narrowly headed over the crossbar as Villa pushed.

Moyes threw out the back three his team started and returned to a more conventional four-man defense for the start of the second period, replacing striker Said Benrahma for fullback Emerson Palmieri on his debut.

If Digne’s brilliant last-ditch tackle hadn’t denied Jarrod Bowen 56 minutes into the game after John McGinn surrendered possession in midfield, the Hammers would have taken the lead.

Nevertheless, Moyes’ tactical adjustments certainly had the desired impact; West Ham had shown more attacking intent throughout the first 15 minutes of the second half.

This is what Gerrard would have been afraid of. Villa should have let their opponents pay in the first half; suddenly West Ham threatened to do that.

The sight of Coutinho limping with a muscle injury in the 66th minute would have done little to allay the worries growing in Gerrard’s mind.

So, that said, when Fornals hit the winner of West Ham after Declan Rice’s sharp pass in the 74th minute, it was all inevitable.

Villa’s reaction to falling behind was tame, the Hammers should have increased their lead in the closing stages.

The full-time whistle was greeted by deafening cheers. The natives are getting restless here at Villapark, Gerrard needs a response – and fast.


ASTON-VILLA (4312): Martinez 6; Cash 6.5, Konza 6.5, Chambers 6.5, Digne 6.5; Luiz 6.5 (Ramsey 66, 6), Kamara 6.5, McGinn 6 (Archer 90); Coutinho 7 (Buendia 66, 6); Watkins 6, Ings 5.5 (Bailey 78).

Subscribers: Olsen, Augustinsson, Young, Nakamba, Iroegbunam.

Booked: Cash, Kamara

Gerard: 6

WESTHAM (343): Fabianski 6.5; Kehrer 7, Zouma 7.5, Cresswell 7; Johnson 6 (Coufal 23, 6), Rice 8, Soucek 7, Emerson 6 (Benrahma 46); Bowen 6, Scamacca 6 (Antonio 65, 6), Fornals 6.

Subscribers: Areola, Lanzini, Downes, Cornet, Agbonna, Coventry.

Moyes: 6

Referee: David Coote

Presence: 41, 796

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