West Ham mutiny calmed by beating Southampton, extra police
LONDON (AP) — The West Ham mutiny was soothed by a resurgent performance producing a 3-0 victory over a listless Southampton, coupled with heightened security at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Marko Arnautovic’s double after Joao Mario’s opener ensured there was an unfamiliar soundtrack at the stadium unloved by so many West Ham fans: Cheers and applause.
“It’s good news all round,” the stadium announcer told fans after the final whistle. “Have a look at the table.”
It showed West Ham moved five points clear of the English Premier League drop zone, where Southampton occupies the last relegation place.
Still, a relegation battle is not what West Ham envisaged when it moved into the stadium that was the centerpiece of the 2012 Olympics.
It’s why West Ham fans are so restless. And it’s why additional police officers patrolled the east London venue while stewards in football boots were stationed around the pitch ready to race onto the pitch to prevent a repeat of the invasions that blemished the last home game three weeks ago.
While there were protests outside the stadium against the West Ham hierarchy, early goals ensured joint-owners David Sullivan and David Gold had an afternoon without being targeted with missiles or throat-slitting gestures from fans as they endured during the toxic previous fixture.
Few sides will surrender as meekly as Southampton.
After winning only one of its last seven games, West Ham took the lead in the 13th minute when the unmarked Mario met Cheikhou Kouyate’s cross. Arnautovic was on target in the 17th after an initial header was saved, and again with a volley in first-half stoppage time.
It was a miserable reunion with the former Stoke striker for new Southampton manager Mark Hughes.
In Hughes’ first Premier League game since being fired by Stoke in December, there was little to suggest he can keep his new team in the top-flight with Southampton in a perilous state. West Ham, though, is on the rise again.
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