Hammers down Saints to ease relegation fears
London: West Ham eased their fears of being dragged into the relegation dogfight with a 3-1 win over Southampton on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce`s side have been looking anxiously towards the bottom three for much of the season, but they are now seven points clear of the Premier League drop zone thanks to a strong fightback at Upton Park.
Japan defender Maya Yoshida had given Southampton the lead with his first Premier League goal.
Southampton hadn`t loss in their previous six league matches, but goals from Matt Jarvis and Carlton Cole put West Ham ahead before half-time and Kevin Nolan`s second half strike extended their unbeaten run to five matches.
West Ham goalkeeper Adrian had gone 360 minutes without conceding, putting him in with a chance to pass Arsenal`s Wojciech Szczesny for the longest clean-sheet streak in the Premier League this season.
He needed to go 58 minutes without conceding to set the new landmark.
But Adrian`s hopes of a notable achievement were dashed by the eighth minute as Southampton took the lead.
The Spaniard was betrayed by poor marking from his defenders as Yoshida was granted space to rise highest and power home a Steve Davis free-kick.
Allardyce`s team responded impressively to the shock of conceding for the time in the league since January 18 against Newcastle and they drew level in the 20th minute.
Hammers captain Nolan lifted the ball over the top of the static Southampton defence, releasing Jarvis to advance on goal and steer the leveller past Artur Boruc despite Southampton`s appeals for offside.
The visitors were still bemoaning what they felt was a poor decision to allow the goal when they conceded again.
Stewart Downing`s corner was met by Cole, who initially headed against a post and showed great composure to pounce on the rebound and slam in his sixth goal of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino`s side almost equalised before half-time when Jack Cork whipped in a deep cross from the right and Rickie Lambert headed against the base of a post.
Saints were left to curse their luck again early in the second half when referee Mark Clattenburg turned down their claim for a penalty after Hammers defender James Collins appeared to handle a high ball into the area.
Clattenburg had prompted an official complaint from Southampton in December after allegedly abusing their midfielder Adam Lallana during a match at Everton and this was the referee`s first Saints game since then.
But Nolan sealed the points for the hosts in the 71st minute when the midfielder volleyed home after Downing`s cross was flicked on by Cole.