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Hernandez on the mark as West Ham end winless run to ease pressure on Moyes

Meanwhile, Charlie Adam missed a late penalty as Stoke spurned the chance to earn three massive points.

Image: Daniel Hambury

WEST HAM BATTLED to their first Premier League win in nearly a month as in-form Javier Hernandez and the returning Marko Arnautovic secured a 2-0 triumph over Watford at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Speculation this week has suggested West Ham’s faith in David Moyes has been shaken by the 3-1 loss at Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, but the club publicly backed him and his players eased matters by ending a run of three successive games without a victory.

After initially looking shaky, Moyes will have been particularly impressed with how his side responded and swiftly took charge in the first half, creating a few decent chances and seeing a Hernandez effort disallowed for offside.

The Mexico international was decisive in legitimate fashion just before half-time, though, heading in for his third goal in four Premier League appearances.

Watford became a better attacking threat out of necessity in the second half and the match opened up – Gerard Deulofeu having their best chance with a long-range free-kick which tested Adrian.

Javi Gracia’s men piled the pressure on at times, but poor defending late on allowed Arnautovic – playing for the first time since January 20 due to a hamstring injury – to wrap things up and move the Hammers on to 30 points, level with their visitors.

Buoyed by their unlikely thrashing of the champions, Watford started brightly and nearly took an early lead after eight minutes – Adrian Mariappa forcing Adrian into a smart save with a header from Jose Holebas’ cross.

But any early promise quickly vanished, as West Ham woke up.

Arnautovic dribbled past three defenders and eventually squeezed the ball through to Joao Mario, who shot at Orestis Karnezis from a tight angle with 11 minutes played.

West Ham United v Watford - Premier League - London Stadium Source: Steven Paston

Set-pieces appeared to be a weakness of Watford’s, though they were bailed out by Hernandez straying just offside when converting Joao Mario’s delivery in the 32nd minute.

Another Joao Mario free-kick caused trouble soon after, picking out James Collins whose header found Arnautovic, only for Karnezis to pull off a desperate save.

But Karnezis could do nothing to keep Hernandez at bay in the 38th minute, as the Mexican nodded into the bottom-right corner following Michail Antonio’s brilliant run and cross.

Watford’s need for an equaliser meant more gaps appeared in their defence, but West Ham failed to exploit them with their final pass letting them down on several occasions.

The hosts had to rely on Adrian to keep them ahead just before the hour, as the goalkeeper palmed away Deulofeu’s 30-yard free-kick.

West Ham should have finished Watford off 18 minutes from time, but Hernandez failed to square to Arnautovic after a darting run into the area and Karnezis managed to halt the striker.

But Arnautovic was presented with a chance soon after and he took full advantage to end Watford’s chances, slamming in from close range after Sebastian Prodl’s clearance ricocheted right to the attacker.

Meanwhile, Mat Ryan made a stunning last-gasp penalty save from Charlie Adam as Stoke City missed the chance to move out of the Premier League bottom three in a pulsating 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Stoke City v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League - bet365 Stadium Source: Martin Rickett

Jese Rodriguez was pushed in the area by Dale Stephens in the 88th minute at the bet365 Stadium and reacted angrily after not being allowed to take the spot-kick.

And the forward’s mood will hardly have improved when Ryan flung himself to his right to keep out Adam’s effort from 12 yards, Lewis Dunk pulling off a superb tackle to prevent the Scot tapping in the rebound.

Incredibly, substitute Anthony Knockaert then came to Brighton’s rescue by clearing Mame Biram Diouf’s header off the line from Adam’s corner in a frantic ending.

The dramatic conclusion came after Jose Izquierdo – a scorer in the reverse fixture that finished 2-2 – had given Brighton a first-half lead with a goal that would not have looked out of place had Barcelona scored it.

Xherdan Shaqiri levelled in the second half with a brilliantly precise finish, but Adam’s failure to make the most of Stoke’s late opportunity means they stay 18th, with Brighton three points above.

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