For 75 minutes West Ham produced the type of performance that too many of their supporters have become used to this season. Turgid, lethargic, disconnected and frustrating.
But with 15 minutes left, it all changed and in a rather bonkers way. They were 3-1 down to Huddersfield – bottom of the table Huddersfield – and deservedly so.
But somehow they found a way to score three goals and win. Javier Hernandez was their inspiration, scoring twice after coming on for Michail Antonio at half-time.
Javier Hernandez scored a late brace for West Ham as they came from behind to win 4-3 at home to Huddersfield
The West Ham players celebrate following Hernandez’s second goal, which ensured that they won the game 4-3
Hernandez is congratulated by his team-mate Aaron Cresswell after scoring West Ham’s third goal
Hernandez, who came on as a substitute at the start of the second-half, scores West Ham’s winner in the closing stages
The Huddersfield players are left dejected following West Ham’s superb late comeback at the London Stadium
His goal in the 84th minute drew them level, following Angelo Ogbonna’s fierce header, before he got the winner with a glancing header.
It was all rather ludicrous and West Ham supporters will tell you only they are capable of coming so close to messing it all up when everything looks to be in place.
They have shown so many times this season that their clear quality on paper doesn’t always translate on to the pitch. If anything, you’re often likely to be underwhelmed by them unless there are some fine individual displays.
On paper, this was a procession, a walkover, an easy game to win. Huddersfield hadn’t scored away from home in all competitions since Boxing Day, let alone win.
This trip to London yet another checkpoint on their Premier League farewell tour. Indeed, after 15 minutes it appeared as though Manuel Pellegrini and his players would have a fairly relaxed yet profitable afternoon.
Injuries have meant that Jan Siewert has been forced into playing some of his youngsters. Gametime in the Premier League is a valuable thing and should serve them well should they be playing in the Championship next season.
Unfortunately when the stakes are so high – as they are right now for Huddersfield – you can’t afford to make basic errors. Aaron Rowe, 18, was given his professional debut here and the winger hadn’t been too involved in the game when he made his first costly mistake at the top level.
Hernandez, who entered the fray at the start of the second half, made a tremendous impact as his side took all three points
Hernandez is congratulated by manager Manuel Pellegrini after making a superb impact during his time on the pitch
Hernandez and his team-mates are delighted following the Mexican substitute’s first goal of the game
Karlan Grant celebrates after his goal gave Huddersfield the lead against West Ham with half an hour gone
Grant is congratulated by his jubilant Huddersfield team-mates after putting his team ahead against the Hammers
Grant managed to find the back of the net to put Huddersfield in the ascendancy in their Premier League clash
Manuel Lanzini used his quick feet to set himself to shoot and Rowe rather clumsily barged him to the ground inside the Huddersfield penalty area. No hesitation from referee Jonathan Moss and Mark Noble duly swept in from 12 yards. It was Noble’s 23rd goal from the penalty spot – level with Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney.
From there you felt West Ham would click into gear but that didn’t happen. Passes weren’t connecting and even Declan Rice, fresh from his England call-up, looked a little lethargic. He was by no means West Ham’s worst performer. From Felipe Anderson to Angelo Ogbonna, West Ham were under-performing just as they did away at Cardiff.
And two minutes after they took the lead, they went behind. Aaron Mooy, who Huddersfield will struggle to keep hold of if they are relegated, delivered a corner into the West Ham box. Juninho Bacuna moved into space, unmarked, and thumped a header past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It was only Huddersfield’s 16th league goal this season and it prompted gallows humour from the away end. ‘We’ve scored a goal, we’ve scored a goal,’ they sang without any expectation they might have a chance of winning the game.
Grant proceeded to make it 3-1 to Huddersfield with an impressive strike in the second half of the game
The forward, who signed from Charlton in the January transfer window, provided an indication of the quality he possesses
Then came the goal that put them in front and it highlighted just how complacent this West Ham can be. Alex Pritchard passed to Chris Lowe on the left side from a free-kick. Lowe threaded a pass to Grant, Ogbonna didn’t react, and the former Charlton striker guided the ball into the far corner.
It was the sort of move West Ham were struggling to put together. Anderson started to get more of the ball but he possibly showed why his stock isn’t as high as a few years ago. Bursting run after bursting run seemed almost always to be cut short either by one touch too many or poor decision-making when in shooting positions.
Half-time came and Pellegrini brought on Javier Hernandez for Antonio. He didn’t wait much longer to bring on Samir Nasri, who replaced Noble. It was that change that left West Ham even more exposed just ahead of their defence. Grant duly exploited it. He started his run 40 yards out; slalomed past Issa Diop, then Ogbonna before crashing a right-footed strike into the top left corner.
Juninho Bacuna is delighted after he scored to pull Huddersfield level in their clash against West Ham
Huddersfield have not had much to celebrate this season but they managed to score three times against West Ham
West Ham captain Mark Noble showed excellent composure to put his side ahead from the penalty spot
Noble celebrates after his spot-kick put West Ham in the lead with 15 minutes gone at the London Stadium
MATCH FACTS, LEAGUE TABLE & MATCH ZONE
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 6; Zabaleta 6, Diop 6, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 6.5; Noble 6,5 (Nasri 59(, Rice 6; Antonio 6.5 (Chicharito 46, 8), Lanzini 6, Anderson 7; Arnautovic 5 (Perez 68)
Subs not used: Adrian, Balbuena, Snodgrass, Masuaku
Scorer: Noble (pen) 15; Ogbonna 75, Hernandez 84, 90+2
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 7
Huddersfield (4-2-3-1): Lossl 6; Smith 6, Stankovic 6, Kongolo 6, Durm 6; Bacuna 6 (Puncheon 67), Mooy 6.5; Rowe 6.5 (Billing 55), Pritchard 6.5, Lowe 6.5; Grant 7.5 (Mounie 71)
Subs not used: Harner, Zanka, Hadergjonaj, Daly
Booked: Pritchard, Billing
Scorer: Bacuna 17, Grant 30, 65
Manager: Jan Siewert 7
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Karlan Grant put Huddersfield in the lead in the 30th minute
West Ham would finally get it all together in the remaining 15 minutes – a period that coincided in Marko Arnautovic, who had been anonymous, coming off for Lucas Perez. Arnautovic was booed as he trudged off. At the moment he is a passenger and one West Ham looked better without.
It left Ogbonna and Hernandez to score the two goals they needed to salvage a point.
Ogbonna powering in a header from Aaron Cresswell’s corner and then Hernandez guided Nasri’s cross from the right into the far corner with his head.
Amazingly, it was Huddersfield who nearly took all the points at the death. Phillip Billing, though, messed it all up when he sent the ball over the bar from six yards.
Then came the moment that capped a breathless 15 minutes. Anderson sent a hopeful ball in, Hernandez took a step towards the ball and glanced a header past Jonas Lossl.
Angelo Ogbonna scored West Ham’s second goal of the game with a header in the 75th minute
West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta attempts to win the ball from Huddersfield’s Chris Lowe during an intense battle
West Ham’s Felipe Anderson seeks to escape the attention of Huddersfield youngster Aaron Rowe
Declan Rice was making his first appearance for West Ham since earning his maiden call-up to the England senior squad