Southampton gave their traveling supporters a late Christmas present, and ended a five-goal thriller with 3-2 against West Ham on the second day of Christmas.
In a round of two halves, action in the goal world was at its peak before the break, but things came to life in the second period and the audience in east London was offered four goals.
The guests came flying out of the blocks and took the lead within eight minutes. The scorer was Mohamed Elyounoussi and finished just outside the penalty area.
After this quick start, both sides struggled to create opportunities in what was a calm first half. West Ham looked particularly flat with their only half-chance before the break to Nikola Vlasic, who weaved past several defenders before making a tame effort well within Fraser Forster’s reach.
Whatever David Moyes said at half-time clearly had the desired effect as just three minutes after the break, the hosts leveled when substitute Michail Antonio threw himself to nod home Craig Dawson’s nod.
West Ham’s improvement continued as the second half progressed with Declan Rice blinking an effort narrowly off the post just before the hour.
Seconds later, the visitors got a chance to regain the lead when Craig Dawson pulled Armando Broja down in the box. James Ward-Prowse made no mistake from the spot and stopped the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.
The drama continued shortly after with the Hammers leveling things up for the second time when Said Benrahma haunted in front of his marker to drive home Jarrod Bowen’s cross.
But with 20 minutes left, Jan Bednarek put the Saints back in front, and threw Ward-Prowse’s free kick into the far corner. This created a tense final but in the end the guests held on for much-needed three points.
Here are your player ratings from London Stadium …
Coufal was kept busy / Alex Broadway / GettyImages
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – 4/10 – Maybe could have done better for the premiere. The Saints’ other two goals were difficult to prevent.
Vladimir Coufal (RB) – 4/10 – A couple of shaky moments defensively. His delivery was also seriously lacking.
Craig Dawson (CB) – 4/10 – His presence from the air was noticed and he set up Antonio. Clumsy brought Broja down to the box.
Issa Diop (CB) – 4/10 – Not the most accurate passing player and part of a defense that conceded three.
Arthur Masuaku (LB) – 5/10 – Not capable of getting on the pitch as Aaron Cresswell is. The Hammers lack their first-choice right-back.
Fornals lasted only half / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages
Tomas Soucek (CM) – 5/10 – The game sometimes passed him by. Probably need to rest.
Declan Rice (CM) – 5/10 – Got a yellow card that excludes him from his side’s second festive match against Watford. Failed to dictate the play as he usually does.
Pablo Fornals (AM) – 4/10 – Struggled to influence the game before being drawn at halftime.
Vlasic got off to a rare start / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages
Nikola Vlasic (RW) – 5/10 – Some bright moments in the first half when his teammates were struggling. A good rotation alternative.
Jarrod Bowen (ST) – 6/10 – Struggled to get into the match in a lone striker role in the first half. Antonio’s introduction released him from the leash and he soon got an assist.
Said Benrahma (LW) – 6/10 – A bit from his best early. Once again, Antonio’s arrival was helpful and he took his goal well.
Michail Antonio (ST) – 8/10 – Getting him at halftime changed the match. Everything went through him.
Manuel Lanzini (AM) – 7/10 – Got the ball far more than the Fornals did in the first half.
Andriy Yarmolenko (LW) – N / A
Salisu enjoyed the battle with Hammer’s front line / Alex Broadway / GettyImages
Fraser Forster (GK) – 4/10 – Looked pretty shaky in the name of honesty.
Tino Livramento (RB) – 6/10 – Shined by his teammate on the opposite defensive flank. Still pretty solid.
Jan Bednarek (CB) – 7/10 – Quite stoic at the back, including a finish line clearance. Step high to send home the winner.
Mohammed Salisu (CB) – 7/10 – Good one-on-one defense. He did not give Bowen an inch before the break. Antonio, however, was harder to hold back.
Kyle Walker-Peters (LB) – 7/10 – Pushed up high and central which often caused West Ham problems.
Elyounoussi scored a rare goal / Alex Broadway / GettyImages
Mohamed Elyounoussi (RM) – 7/10 – Reminded us of his talent with a well-scored goal early on. Light for the rest of the first half before he faded badly.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 7/10 – Some excellent long passes and got a typical free kick assist.
Oriel Romeu (CM) – 6/10 – Choked Bowen’s ability to drop into the midfield with some physical marking. Make yourself guilty of some silly fouls.
Nathan Redmond (LM) – 6/10 – Turned in some really nice crosses with both feet. The influence diminished after the break.
Broja did well again / Chloe Knott – Danehouse / GettyImages
Theo Walcott (ST) – 4/10 – Poor. Wasteful in possession but worked hard.
Armando Broja (ST) – 6/10 – Full of direct running, which eventually won his team a penalty. Long before Adam Armstrong in the hack order at this point.
Che Adams (ST) – N / A
Stuart Armstrong (LM) – N / A
Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – N / A
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