It wasn't quite as easy as the scoreline indicates, but West Ham United took three huge points over West Bromwich Albion at Upton Park in a much-anticipated battle of the Wests. Andy Carroll was the key, scoring a goal in both halves, while the defence hold out adroitly against some furious pressure from the visitors.
It was actually the Baggies who had the first chance. A free kick was touched for a Romelu Lukaku long-range blast that took a deflection off the wall, forcing Jussi Jaaskelainen into a spectacular save to tip the ball onto the post. But that close call proved very much the exception to the normal run of play, and West Ham grabbed a lead moments later.
No matter how off-form Andy Carroll might be, he's always a threat on set pieces, and he rose high above the Baggies' defence to nod in Gary O'Neil's corner to make it 1-0 in the 16th minute. And the hosts weren't done there -- Mohamed Diame and Matt Jarvis both came very close to doubling their advantage before O'Neill actually did it, meeting Ricardo Vaz Te's pass with a lovely curling finish that left Ben Foster completely helpless.
West Brom were in trouble and pushed bodies forward in an attempt to make up the deficit, but despite some strong attacking play failed to cause Jaaskelainen much trouble. West Ham kept their defence keep, limiting the danger of Lukaku or Shane Long breaking past the lines, and loose balls always seemed to find their way to claret and blue shirts rather than Baggies players.
And while Steve Clark was pouring his resources forwards, the Hammers could get at their opponents, leaving the hosts with long spells of pressure and eventually allowing them to grab a third goal, which rather improbably came from a wonderful right-footed volley from Carroll after a ball over the top. It's a good thing they did too, because otherwise the finale could have been far dicier.
Lukaku, who'd been a threat all half, finally had his moment when he won a th minute penalty, going down after an aerial clash with . Graham Dorrans stepped up and sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way, giving West Brom some slender measure of hope which would have been far more meaningful had Carroll not grabbed his brace. Instead, the late rally, which also featured Markes Rosenburg shooting straight at the goalkeeper when he should have scored, meant more or less nothing.
And the game would get worse for the visitors, who saw influential midfielder Youssuf Mulumbu sent to a (slightly) early bath for picking up the ball and volleying it at O'Neill during injury time. That red card more or less summed up the afternoon for Clarke's side -- instead of overcoming their setbacks, they let their frustration get to them and paid the price. For Sam Allardyce's men, however, it's a vital three points as they look to ensure that they stay in the league for another year.