Andy Carroll’s double ensured West Ham United followed up their good news about the Olympic Stadium with a well-deserved victory in front of a sell-out crowd, further diminishing their outside chances of being dragged into relegation danger.
The striker’s efforts were contrasting goals, with the first being a powerful header and the second coming from an eye-catching turn and volley. In between those two goals, a menacing run by Ricardo Vaz Te had allowed Gary O’Neil to cleverly curl in and put West Ham 2-0 ahead.
West Bromwich Albion probed hard to find a way back into the game after trailing 2-0 at the break, but did not have the guile to unlock a hard-working West Ham rearguard – and their goal was merely a late consolation. They finished the game with 10 men when Youssouf Mulumbu kicked the ball at O’Neil in frustration late on.
Earlier, West Ham’s open style had allowed the visitors to give them two early scares. The first moment of trouble arrived when Chris Brunt’s corner was met by Garath McAuley who bundled the ball in, but was correctly penalised for a foul on goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Romelu Lukaku was next to threaten as his driven, 25-yard free-kick deflected off O’Neil before alert Jaaskelainen pushed the ball on to a post.
The London club still kept pushing forward and took the lead when O’Neil’s corner was met by a powerful close-range header from Carroll, who took advantage of Jonas Olsson’s slow reactions and left goalkeeper Ben Foster with no chance of making a save.
That goal buoyed West Ham who should have gone 2-0 ahead but Matt Jarvis somehow skied over from eight yards after Carroll’s flick-on. They soon rectified that though, and in some style, as Vaz Te made a piercing, 40-yard run until reaching the edge of the 18-yard box, where he teed up O’Neil for his finish into the far corner.
Allardyce was waving his arms around and bellowing in frustration just before half-time as West Ham were denied a penalty when Jarvis was brought down by Billy Jones – who was being given a tough time by the winger – but the Albion defender appeared to win the ball.
Albion made a better start to the second half, with West Ham playing deeper, and Lukaku came close with a powerful, 22-yard effort that went over. Jaaskelainen then showed his value again in the 65th minute by pushing away a Jones effort before Guy Demel hacked the ball away from danger.
That was followed by the introduction of substitute Peter Odemwingie for the final 20 minutes, who was brought on by head coach Steve Clarke despite the player’s recent outburst against the club on Twitter. The Nigerian could do little to break down West Ham’s resistance though and the game was safe for West Ham when James Collins’s long ball was met by Carroll, who controlled and finished brilliantly.
When Lukaku was impeded by Winston Reid and Matt Taylor as he jumped for a header, West Brom were awarded their late penalty and Graham Dorrans struck in from the spot, but their woes were compounded when Mulumbu was sent off for his petulance.