West Ham close to survival after vital win over Watford


London (AFP) – West Ham effectively sealed their Premier League survival with a first half goal-blitz in Friday’s 3-1 win over relegation rivals Watford.

David Moyes’ side ran riot before the break at the London Stadium thanks to goals from Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice.

Troy Deeney got one back for Watford after the interval, but the visitors couldn’t muster an unlikely escape act.

West Ham climbed to 15th place and sit six points clear of the relegation zone with just two games left.

Holding a vastly superior goal difference to third bottom Bournemouth and second bottom Aston Villa, the Hammers should be safe from the drop.

After their second successive win, West Ham need one more point to guarantee their survival.

Fourth bottom Watford are just three points above the relegation zone and face a nerve-wracking finish to the season.

Nigel Pearson’s team, beaten for the first time in three matches, will face Manchester City and Arsenal in their final two games.

Bournemouth, whose goal difference is only two worse than Watford’s, would go above the Hornets if they beat Southampton by a three-goal margin on Sunday.

Antonio had scored four times in West Ham’s rout of Norwich last weekend and the forward was too hot for Watford to handle as well.

West Ham took the lead in the sixth minute when Pablo Fornals played in Antonio and he fired past Ben Foster for his seventh goal since the coronavirus hiatus.

Less than five minutes later, Watford’s task was made harder when Soucek headed home from Jarrod Bowen’s cross.

England midfielder Rice produced a superb 30-yard strike to put West Ham three up in the 36th minute.

Watford striker Deeney reduced the deficit in the 49th minute, tapping in after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s shot rebounded off a post.

But Deeney was forced off with an injury and Watford couldn’t fight back without their captain.

Hammers substitute Sebastian Haller went close in the closing stages with an acrobatic 25-yard volley that Foster tipped away.

Watford’s last chance was squandered by Danny Welbeck, who fired hurriedly over after being taken by surprise when team-mate Andre Gray missed his header.

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