London (AFP) – Cheikhou Kouyate boosted West Ham United’s survival bid as the Senegal midfielder fired his side to a crucial 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Swansea City on Saturday.
Kouyate’s second-half strike at the London Stadium lifted Slaven Bilic’s team eight points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
After losing their last five matches, West Ham’s first win in eight games was perfectly timed and should go a long way to ensuring the east Londoners avoid the drop.
For Swansea, a fourth defeat in their last five games leaves them facing a nerve-shredding final few weeks of the season.
Paul Clement’s third-bottom side are without a win in their last five matches and sit two points from safety with six games left to beat the drop.
Backed by West Ham’s owners earlier this week, Bilic had called for his team to stick together and they appeared to have heeded the message in a lively start.
Michail Antonio’s penalty appeal was turned down when the West Ham forward was sandwiched by Federico Fernandez and Alfie Mawson, then Hammers midfielder Manuel Lanzini sent a free-kick just over the crossbar.
Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was called into action to keep out Robert Snodgrass’s header from Antonio’s cross.
Andre Ayew was battling against his brother Jordan, playing up front for Swansea, and it was the West Ham forward who threatened first when he sprinted onto Mark Noble’s pass, only for Fabianski to push away his curling effort.
Having blown the lead with just minutes left against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek, Swansea looked short of energy and inspiration.
Antonio was forced off after pulling up sharply with a hamstring injury late in the first half, but West Ham kept pressing and their dominance was rewarded in the 44th minute.
Snodgrass teed up Kouyate and he smashed a low strike past Fabianski into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Clement sent on Fernando Llorente and Luciano Narsingh at half-time and the changes almost brought an immediate impact when Narsingh’s shot was blocked by James Collins.
Leroy Fer almost equalised from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner before West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph turned over Narsingh’s shot in a tense finale.
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