West Ham ended their recent run of poor form by coming from behind to overwhelm struggling Watford at Vicarage Road.
The Hammers had gone into the game with just one win in seven games – a run that had seen them seemingly slip out of top-four contention.
It looked like the slump was going to continue when Emmanuel Dennis knocked the ball past Craig Dawson in the fourth minute before firing a superb strike into the top corner.
West Ham initially struggled to impose themselves but improved as the half wore on and then shocked the Hornets with two goals in two minutes.
First, Jarrod Bowen picked out Tomas Soucek and the midfielder equalised in the 27th minute with a first-time finish before Said Benrahma put the visitors ahead with a deflected strike.
West Ham ensured there was no way back for the hosts when Mark Noble converted a second-half penalty, awarded after a VAR review for a foul on Bowen inside the box.
The excellent Bowen was again involved as the visitors sealed the success in injury time, cutting the ball back for Nikola Vlasic to side-foot home his first goal for the club.
Victory means David Moyes’ side move up to fifth in the Premier League, four points off the top four, while Watford – who were booed off at full time – are 17th and two points outside of the relegation zone following a third successive home defeat.
Hammers end poor run but Hornets’ struggles continue
This was a much-needed win for a West Ham side that appeared to be struggling to show the form that had them challenging for a Champions League place.
Even at the start of this game their quick, crisp counter-attacking football was rarely evident but, as Watford failed to build on their bright opening, the Hammers became more confident and looked more like their old selves.
Having been in danger of slipping out of the top six over the festive period, this victory means they can now refocus their push to finish in the top four.
For Watford, however, this was a disappointing loss, particularly as they were considerably more rested than West Ham, with this their first game since 10 December while the Hammers had played four times since then.
The form of summer signing Dennis, who scored his eighth goal of the season on Tuesday, has been one of the few bright spots of their campaign and he will undoubtedly have a big say in determining what division his side are playing in next season.
However, Watford now face the prospect of having to try to pull themselves away from the bottom three during January without their talismanic forward, who will be away for much of the month with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.
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West Ham United
- 21FemeníaSubstituted forLouzaat 40′minutes
- 29HernándezSubstituted forJoão Pedroat 45′minutes
- 18TufanSubstituted forSemaat 62′minutes
- 10João Pedro
- 15DawsonBooked at 81mins
- 31JohnsonSubstituted forMasuakuat 82′minutes
- 10LanziniSubstituted forKrálat 90′minutes
- 22BenrahmaSubstituted forVlasicat 85′minutes
- Darren England
Match ends, Watford 1, West Ham United 4.
Second Half ends, Watford 1, West Ham United 4.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Lukasz Fabianski.
Attempt saved. Francisco Sierralta (Watford) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Imran Louza with a cross.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Lukasz Fabianski.
Attempt saved. Emmanuel Dennis (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by João Pedro.
Goal! Watford 1, West Ham United 4. Nikola Vlasic (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jarrod Bowen.
Attempt saved. Michail Antonio (West Ham United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jarrod Bowen.
Substitution, West Ham United. Alex Král replaces Manuel Lanzini.
Foul by Nikola Vlasic (West Ham United).
Juraj Kucka (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).
Attempt blocked. João Pedro (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Nikola Vlasic (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Juraj Kucka (Watford).
Substitution, West Ham United. Nikola Vlasic replaces Saïd Benrahma.
Vladimir Coufal (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Ken Sema (Watford).
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Craig Dawson.
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