A Mark Noble brace helped West Ham United secure a comfortable 4-1 victory over Southampton in the Premier League.
Noble’s free-kick and penalty, along with strikes from Kevin Nolan and Modibo Maiga, ensured a fourth Premier League win of the season for West Ham and heaped more misery on struggling Southampton, whose reply from Adam Lallana ultimately proved to be scant consolation.
Southampton went into the match just one place above the drop zone having failed to register a single point away from home in the league. Yet they displayed a positive intent during an ultimately drab opening 45 minutes.
Centre-backs Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte seemed to have the measure of Andy Carroll, and the likes of Lallana, Jason Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez looked lively going forward.
Lallana did well to pick out lone striker Guly Do Prado on the edge of the West Ham box in the 10th minute, but he was unable to fashion a shooting opportunity – with their top scorer this season, Rickie Lambert, watching on ruefully from the bench.
With Southampton controlling possession, West Ham retreated and looked to attack on the break.
Artur Boruc clawed away Matt Jarvis’s 18th minute left-wing cross, but only into the path of James Tomkins whose header was goalbound but for the intervention of Hooiveld.
Two minutes later it was Southampton’s turn to come close - Rodriguez sending a controlled effort from a Morgan Schneiderlin delivery agonisingly wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s far post.
The home fans were growing restless with their side’s first-half performance but they needn’t have worried as West Ham came out strongly at the start of the second with two goals in as many minutes.
Noble opened the scoring after his 46th-minute lofted free-kick into the Saints box evaded everyone, including Boruc, and nestled in the bottom corner.
Then, just after the restart in play, Yossi Benayoun ventured forward and found Nolan at the back post who had the simplest of tasks in tapping home.
Southampton regrouped and were able to pull a goal back shortly after the hour mark through Lallana, whose smart turn and emphatic finish gave Jaaskelainen no chance.
Saints manager Nigel Adkins then introduced Lambert to freshen up his side’s attacking options, and the substitute almost found the equaliser as his curling 20-yard free kick landed on the roof of Jaaskelainen’s net.
But more defensive lapses were to be Southampton’s undoing as Fonte clambered over Carroll, and Noble stepped up to dispatch the resulting penalty to restore West Ham’s two-goal lead.
As Southampton pressed forward to recover that latest setback, they left themselves exposed at the back and substitute Maiga took full advantage of the situation.
Collecting the ball inside the Saints half, the Malian international drove forward before curling an unstoppable effort beyond Boruc to wrap up a convincing 4-1 win.
The result sees West Ham move up to seventh, while Southampton may well end the weekend in the relegation zone having now taken only four points from their opening eight games.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mark Noble - West Ham United: His two goals set West Ham on their way, but his drive and tenacity anchoring their midfield proved just as pivotal for securing all three points.
WEST HAM UNITED: Jaaskelainen 7, Tomkins 6, Reid 7, Collins 6, McCartney 6, Noble 8, Nolan 7, Diame 6, Benayoun 6, Jarvis 6, Carroll 7. Subs: O’Neil 6, Spence 6, Maiga 7
SOUTHAMPTON: Boruc 5, Clyne 5, Yoshida 5, Hooiveld 6, Fonte 5, Schneiderlin 5, Davis 5, Lallana 7, Puncheon 6, Do Prado 5, Rodriguez 5. Subs: Mayuka 6, Lambert 6, Ward-Prowse 5