Andy Carroll turned in a dominating performance for West Ham United as they kick started their season with a win over Huddersfield Town on Monday night.
The Hammers were without a Premier League victory this term going into the match, but fought their way to all three points at the London Stadium thanks to two scrappy goals deep into the second half.
— NinetyMinutesOnline (@90MinsOnline) September 9, 2017
In a game of few clear-cut chances, Javier Hernandez spurned the best of the opening period when he blasted Michail Antonioâ€™s low cross against the bar from just outside the six-yard box.
Despite West Hamâ€™s dominance, it took until the 72nd minute for the breakthrough to come, with Pedro Obiangâ€™s speculative strike taking a huge deflection off Mathias Jorgensen to nestle in the corner of the Terriersâ€™ net.
Five minutes later the game was safe when Huddersfield failed to clear a corner and Andre Ayew pounced to stab home from point-blank range.
The victory eased the pressure on manager Slaven Bilic and moved West Ham off the bottom of the table into 18th position, above Bournemouth and Crystal Palace.
The Croatian boss took a gamble in handing Carroll his first start of the campaign after a thigh injury, but the powerful forward led the line superbly and was a constant threat to the oppositionâ€™s defence.
Starting through the middle, the target man got up against the Huddersfield centre-backs and nearly opened the scoring inside two minutes, when he flashed an effort across the box after bringing down Jose Fonteâ€™s long diagonal ball.
Carrollâ€™s aerial ability was allied to an extraordinary work rate and his sheer physical presence gave the Irons a dimension that they have perhaps lacked so far this term.
Keeping him fit is now a top priority for Bilic, who will be all too aware of the 28-year-oldâ€™s dismal injury record over the last half a decade.
West Ham supporters were delighted to see Carroll back in action and he left them purring with an all-action display.
The best of the responses from Twitter can be found below:
— çˆ¶ Matt Garner çˆ¶ (@mattgarner1016) September 11, 2017
Good performance from Carroll tonight. Just hope he stays fit #COYI
— George Poynter (@George_Poynter) September 11, 2017
Collins – Outstanding
Zabaleta – Fantastic
Obiang/Kouyate – Phenomenal
Carroll – Heavenly
Antonio – Daddy
Super Slav. #COYI
— Luke James (@LukeJames_32) September 11, 2017
Whatever you think of Andy Carroll, there's no doubt he lifts the team. #coyi
— Sarah J ðŸŽ¥ðŸŽ¤ðŸ–Š (@sarahinho73) September 11, 2017
Great term performance last night. Team looked committed and on it from beginning. Carroll and Antonio immense work rate. #COYI
— Terry Stokes (@TerryAStokes) September 12, 2017
We are such a better side with Andy Carroll in it. Thought he was brilliant today
— West Ham COYI (@TheHammers_) September 11, 2017
— Kenny Lake (@sulcolake) September 12, 2017
Andy Carroll is the most underrated player in the Premier league
— West Ham COYI (@TheHammers_) September 12, 2017
— Tim Ford (@TimCratchett) September 12, 2017
Happy Birthday Slavan Bilic! What a great win tonight! Carroll and Antonio inplayable and Zabaleta total class COYI âš’
— Rod Evans (@RoderickEvans) September 12, 2017
Have to use that to lift us now. Carroll back gives us a threat we lack otherwise. Arnie back for the Baggies with a point to prove #COYI
— Matthew Poysden (@MattPois) September 11, 2017
Antonio, Carroll & Zabaleta were superb tonight. Such a crucial win! #COYI
— Ashley Page (@ashleypage_) September 11, 2017