Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini scored spectacular second-half goals as West Ham ended the season with a 3-1 victory over Everton that secured David Moyes’ side a final position of 13th in the Premier League table.
Lanzini took advantage of the gaps in front of Everton’s defence to give West Ham the lead shortly before half-time with a low, left-footed drive from outside the box and Arnautovic netted the pick of his 11 league goals this term just after the hour mark.
Oumar Niasse pulled one back for Everton after 74 minutes, but only after he had missed a golden opportunity earlier in the game, while Wayne Rooney – who is rumoured to be negotiating a transfer to the MLS – was not in Sam Allardyce’s matchday squad.
A brilliant solo effort from Lanzini made it 3-1 with just under 10 minutes left and the London Stadium crowd enjoyed a rare happy afternoon, but if Moyes was hoping to end the campaign with a performance to savour, he didn’t quite get it.
Allardyce, meanwhile, was left to rue his side’s wastefulness in front of goal, but will hope that a final league position of eighth will be enough to keep him at the club next season.
West Ham’s patient early build-up play almost paid off when the ball fell to Mark Noble in the penalty area, but his shot from close range found Jordan Pickford in fine form, the Everton goalkeeper diving down to his left to make a one-handed block.
Hammers wing-back Arthur Masuaku was forced off with an ankle injury following a clumsy challenge from Ramiro Funes Mori, who was booked, before Lanzini teed up Joao Mario to lash the ball narrowly wide to the right of Pickford’s goal from 20 yards.
A mistake by Angelo Ogbonna allowed Niasse a one-on-one with Adrian just after the half-hour mark, but the Senegalese striker aimed too close to the goalkeeper, who saved his low shot with an outstretched leg.
Niasse was made to rue his miss six minutes before half-time when Arnautovic failed to control Cheikhou Kouyate’s pass but the ball fell kindly to Lanzini who strode forward before driving a shot into the bottom-right corner of the net.
West Ham continued to control the tempo of the game in the second half before Arnautovic delivered a moment of brilliant, receiving the ball from Edimilson Fernandes before turning Michael Keane and letting rip with a swerving shot from 25 yards that was simply too powerful for Pickford.
Arnautovic had a headed goal disallowed before Declan Rice’s failure to deal with a near-post corner at the other end allowed the ball to reach Niasse, who skilfully controlled the ball before lashing it high into the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
Just as Everton looked set to mount a comeback, Pablo Zabaleta’s cross-field ball found Lanzini, who cut inside before curling a right-footed shot into the top corner of the net beyond the diving Pickford.
Adrian made a superb double-save in the dying minutes before James Collins came on for what is likely to be his final West Ham appearance, and for once the atmosphere around London Stadium was harmonious and celebratory at the end of a gruelling season.
Key Opta stats:
– David Moyes has won eight of his last nine meetings with Sam Allardyce in the competition (L1), including each of his last six in a row.
– Sam Allardyce has lost four of his last five final-day games (D1), with his last win coming with the Hammers against Reading in May 2013.
– Allardyce lost his 200th Premier League game, becoming only the second manager to do this (Harry Redknapp, 238 defeats).
– West Ham’s 13th place finish is their lowest since 2013-14 when they also finished 13th in the table.