West Ham make hard work of FA Cup progress against battling Birmingham
PUBLISHED: 14:40 05 January 2019
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Hammers striker Marko Arnautovic unhappy at being taken off after just 20 minutes
FA CUP THIRD ROUND
West Ham United 2 Birmingham City 0
West Ham United left Birmingham City with the Blues as they secured their place in the FA Cup fourth round at the London Stadium, where goals from Marko Arnautović and Andy Carroll book-ended a Hammers victory over the Championship side.
Arnautović nodded Manuel Pellegrini’s men into a second-minute lead with his eighth goal of the season, before being reluctantly forced to retire midway through the first-half and his replacement, Carroll, then cemented victory in stoppage-time.
Arnautović whose quick-fire, double-barrelled blast had fired the Hammers to an unlikely 2-2 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night had kept his starting place despite the Chilean making half-a-dozen changes.
And carrying on from where he had left off in midweek, the Austrian took less than two minutes to put the Hammers ahead after Xande Silva – making his first start in Claret & Blue - had forced an early corner with a tightly-angled shot that Lee Camp turned around his near post.
But when Grady Diangana sent over the consequent corner, the Birmingham keeper could only push Angelo Ogbonna’s powerful header skywards and, out-muscling Maxime Colin, Arnautović nodded over the line from a couple of yards to go level with Felipe Anderson in the West Ham United scoring charts.
New Year signing Samir Nasri had also been handed his Hammers debut, while cup specialist Adrián returned alongside Silva, Diangana, Arthur Masuaku and Michail Antonio as Pablo Zabaleta stood down, while Carroll, Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass took their places on the bench.
Certainly, those fresh faces were anxious to impress Pellegrini as Diangana saw a 20-yarder deflected inches wide for another corner, while at the other end, even Adrián found time to impress with his Spanish steps as he outwitted the inrushing Lukas Jutkiewicz.
A New Year’s Day draw at Sheffield Wednesday had left the Blues in eighth spot in the Championship and now arriving in the capital - 18 places below West Ham in the footballing pyramid – and turning their attention to a welcome breather from the gruelling battle for a Play-Off place, manager Garry Monk had made just change with Connor Mahoney coming in for Jota.
Although they forced a couple of corners inside the opening 20 minutes, in reality, City posed little early threat to West Ham, who then saw reluctant and gutted goal-scorer Arnautović limp towards the tunnel, where he appeared to be debating Pellegrini’s precautionary decision to replace him with Carroll, who soon needed treatment, too.
The groggy Hammers substitute returned to his feet to see Mahoney glance a header wide from six yards and, after Issa Diop had his own close-range effort parried by Camp, Carroll was back on diligent, defensive duty, nodding off the line from Jutkiewicz as the visitors finally got themselves into gear.
In reply, Diangana ripped a low scorcher into the side-netting but, despite only enjoying around 20 per cent possession, the Blues also forced Antonio to make a crucial goal-line clearance, before Maikel Kieftenbeld drilled one wide from distance as West Ham maintained their one-goal lead going into the break.
Needing to dig themselves out of trouble, Birmingham switched Gardners as Craig replaced younger brother Gary for the restart – and after Diop was booked for juddering into Jacques Maghoma - Snodgrass came on for the tidy Nasri as the hour-mark approached.
Midway through the second period, Wes Harding’s hanging cross was nodded into Adrián’s gloves by Jutkiewicz, before Antonio flashed a 20-yarder inches past Camp’s right-hand upright and Silva lashed over from similar range.
By now, though, City were pressing more than the Hammers, whose first-half domination had evaporated into the chilly East End air and, in an effort to liven things up down West Ham way, Pellegrini introduced Anderson for the final dozen minutes as Silva stood down.
The Brazilian soon invited Carroll to chip onto the left-hand angle from 10 yards and, making the most of their reprieve, Harding - roared on by the vociferous visiting fans - then broke forward into the Hammers area, where Adrián bravely dived into his studs to preserve West Ham’s slender advantage.
With two minutes remaining, Carroll should have put the tie to bed when he rounded Camp before scuffing into the side-netting from just a couple of yards, but as the game moved into stoppage time, the Big Man atoned for that awful miss by out-jumping Michael Morrison to nod Antonio’s right-wing cross beyond Camp and send the Hammers ball into the fourth round draw.
HAMMERS: Adrián, Antonio, Masuaku, Diop, Ogbonna, Obiang, Rice, Diangana, Nasri (Snodgrass 58), Arnautović (Carroll 20), Silva (Anderson 78). Unused subs: Fabianski, Cresswell, Pérez, Coventry.
BLUES: Camp, Harding, Morrison, Dean, Colin, Mahoney (Solomon-Otabor 73), G. Gardner (C. Gardner h/t), Kieftenbeld, Maghoma, Jutkiewicz, Adams. Unused subs: Trueman, Scarr, Dacres-Cogley, Lubala, Lakin.
Bookings: Diop (51)
Referee: Roger East