West Ham pushed their top-four credentials as they thrashed 10-man Aston Villa to condemn them to a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat.
The result leaves David Moyes’ side level on points with third-placed Manchester City in fourth, while Villa remain 15th, three points above the bottom three.
Ben Johnson opened the scoring for the visitors with a low drive into the bottom left corner from 18 yards after being picked out by Declan Rice’s cross-field pass.
And Rice drove into the same corner to restore the Hammers’ lead after Ollie Watkins had swept home an equaliser following good work from Emiliano Buendia near the byline.
Though Villa rallied and saw Watkins head against the bar from John McGinn’s cross their hopes of taking anything from the contest were ultimately undermined by Ezri Konsa’s dismissal for a foul on Jarrod Bowen.
The central defender was sent off with the Hammers forward judged to be through on goal and moments after Kortney Hause escaped punishment for a challenge on Pablo Fornals.
“It wasn’t a red card, ” said Villa boss Dean Smith. “The referee saw it in real time and thought the ball was going towards the goal. It amazes me, it wasn’t going towards the goal – and Ashley Young was covering. That staggers me.”
With Villa pressing forward for an equaliser, Fornals tapped in a third on the break and Bowen rounded off the scoring for West Ham with another close-range finish into an empty net after good work from Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini.
West Ham’s victory epitomised their fine start to the campaign and they have now earned more points at this stage of the season than any other, bar 1975-76.
Moyes’ side building momentum
While there is still a considerable distance to go until prizes and European places are confirmed next May, momentum and hope appears to be building at West Ham.
Moyes’ side have been excellent on three fronts this term, with a superb Premier League start, reaching the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup and taking charge of their Europa League group with three straight wins.
And there is also a positivity and attacking impetus attached to his side that has perhaps not always been present in his previous jobs elsewhere.
Rather than sitting back at Villa Park they went straight after their out-of-sorts opponents and the likes of Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Antonio all had good opportunities to double their lead before the home side levelled.
Rice’s goal owed a little to luck with Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez complaining that he had been unsighted by the England midfielder’s effort from distance.
However, after Konsa’s red card, they were thoroughly professional and eventually made their extra man count.
Villa, who started Leon Bailey for the first time and lost Jacob Ramsey to a first-half injury, will consider themselves unfortunate in moments but they were also far too passive early on, and with a man down, paid the price for having to constantly chase the game.
West Ham United
- 4ThusBooked at 50mins
- 7McGinnBooked at 79mins
- 41RamseySubstituted forYoungat 15′minutes
- 10Good daySubstituted forMingsat 52′minutes
- 31BaileySubstituted forThe Ghaziat 72′minutes
- 16Let’s start
- 21The Ghazi
- 20BowenBooked at 79minsSubstituted forVlasicat 90+1′minutes
- 8FornalsBooked at 79minsSubstituted forCoufalat 90+1′minutes
- 22BenrahmaSubstituted forLanziniat 64′minutes
- Chris Kavanagh
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 4.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 4.
Substitution, West Ham United. Vladimir Coufal replaces Pablo Fornals.
Substitution, West Ham United. Nikola Vlasic replaces Jarrod Bowen.
Foul by Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham United).
Ashley Young (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.
Michail Antonio (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa).
Goal! Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 4. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Manuel Lanzini.
Goal! Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 3. Pablo Fornals (West Ham United) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner following a fast break.
Attempt saved. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Michail Antonio with a headed pass.
John McGinn (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card.
Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card.
Pablo Fornals (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Pablo Fornals (West Ham United).
Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Matthew Cash (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Anwar El Ghazi.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Anwar El Ghazi replaces Leon Bailey.
Attempt saved. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.