ANOTHER trip to the seaside ends in tears for West Ham and David Moyes.
And they may as well pick up several bucket and spades on their back to the capital – to dig themselves out of this deep, deep relegation mess they find themselves in.
ReutersBrighton are in the hunt for European football after another wonderful team performance[/caption]
ReutersAnother embarrassing defeat means David Moyes is under pressure at West Ham[/caption]
Before a ball was kicked, the east Londoners had the unwanted record of never beating Brighton in the Premier League in 11 attempts. Make that a miserable 12.
In a season of many a below par display, this was arguably the worst of the lot from a West Ham team who thought they had turned a corner after whacking four past Nottingham Forest. Their response? To concede four themselves.
One step forward, 10 steps back it seems. Alexis Mac Allister netted an 18th minute penalty before teeing up Joel Veltman from a corner just after the break.
Kaoru Mitoma added a deserved third in the 69th minute and Danny Welbeck finished it off in the 89th minute as the visitors were ripped to shreds.
Jarrod Bowen gave away the spot-kick, but Ben Johnson was to blame for the first three goals and endured a torrid time at right back against a young, vibrant Brighton attack.
Incredibly, the score line should have been far greater but for a lack of killer instinct from a team who gave flashbacks at times of their trend under old manager Graham Potter – intricate build-up with little end product.
Yet even with current boss Roberto De Zerbi serving his one-match touchline ban up in the stands, Brighton will not experience a more comfortable home outing all campaign.
The Seagulls are back to winning ways after a minor blip, and back to dreaming of hosting European nights at the Amex Stadium, just three points behind fifth-placed Newcastle with a game in hand.
West Ham meanwhile should enjoy their European Conference League knock-out run – starting next week – while they can, because they are nowhere near the levels of previous years under Moyes, perched just outside the bottom three.
There was a greater shock in between the Brighton sticks however, as Jason Steele, 32, was chosen over Robert Sanchez for just his second Prem start – and first since 2021.
It is safe to say Steele could have propped up a deck chair on the beach for most of this one – while Areola was called into action early on as Solly March waltzed through a non-existent West Ham back four.
A knee injury forced off Tariq Lamptey after 15 minutes, but Veltman slotted in seamlessly – and a minute later Mitoma was bundled over by Bowen in the box.
March’s switch of play was misjudged by Johnson, allowing the Japanese international to dart inside. Mac Allister found the top corner to get the party started.
A carbon copy of that move – again with Johnson asleep – almost brought a second, an area of the pitch Brighton were clearly targeting with great success.
West Ham’s one chance of the half came on the counter as Bowen sprung clear only to be denied by the knee of Steele – who then blocked a Tomas Soucek attempt.
Said Benrahma was harshly hauled off at the break for Pablo Fornals, yet it took Brighton just seven minutes to evaporate any belief of an unlikely comeback from Moyes.
Mac Allister – all 5ft9 of him – flicked on a corner to the back post to where Johnson should have been, leaving Veltman all the time in the world to chest home for a yard out.
West Ham were asking too be thumped with their naivety and lack of aggression. Mitoma nicked the ball of Johnson and fed Evan Ferguson who tested the hands of Areola.
Moyes could only watch on as his team began to lose their heads – Soucek and Declan Rice getting booked for nasty tackles and Bowen shown a yellow for a blatant dive.
Ferguson should have grabbed his first of the afternoon but for a late Emerson intervention while Areola tipped a curling effort from Julio Enciso onto the post.
But it was yet another back post blunder from Johnson that allowed Mitoma to finally get on the scoresheet with 21 minutes left – sliding in for his sixth goal in 10 Prem games.
The away end began to empty out soon after, with chants of “we’re f***ing s**t” and “you don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at a lifeless Moyes in the dug-out as Welbeck found the bottom corner from outside the box in the closing stages.
At this rate, Moyes knows exactly what West Ham will be doing with more performances like this – they will be going down.
Here is how ALL the action unfolded…
PAAlexis Mac Allister tucked away a penalty to get the scoring going[/caption]