West Ham continued their unlikely but slim push for the Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win away at West Brom, as Captain Mark Noble bagged a brace alongside Cheikhou Kouyates first goal since September.
The win leaves the Hammers five points behind 4th placed Manchester City with a game in hand. This will be against City’s arch rivals Manchester United. The winner of that game is more than likely to secure 5th spot and a Europa league group qualification.
The East End club went into Saturday’s game unchanged from the win against Watford. The first chance fell to the Baggies as Craig Gardner tried to curl an effort to the far post, only for the outstretched leg of Antonio to prevent a goal.
Gardner was causing West Ham problems, later directing a header to the near post, but it went just wide after Adrian had patted away a dangerous cross from young debutant Jonathan Leko.
West Ham started to establish a substantial footing in the game and they took the lead with ten minutes left in the first half. A Dimitri Payet cross was at first cleared but played back to the Frenchman for a second attempt. This time he lofted the ball for Kouyate to neatly head home.
It was 2-0 in the last few minutes of added time as Kouyate turned provider, knocking down a ball to Noble after a great charging run, which the captain slotted into the far corner with a sliding finish despite a heavy first touch.
Former Spurs player Sandro should have hit the target with a low driven shot in the 60th minute which could have given the Baggies hope, but the game was over after Carroll crossed to the back post for Noble to get his second with a well-controlled volley straight into the top corner.
West Ham’s remaining three games are against Swansea and Manchester United at home before a final away trip to Stoke. Fourth place seems unlikely but European football should be coming to the Olympic Stadium in the form of the Europa League.