Slaven Bilic’s weakened Hammers Side thrashed a Bolton Wanderers outfit that never really had a sniff at The London Stadium last night, to book a place in the Draw for Round Four of The Carabao Cup.
We made a much-needed fast start to the tie, as first-half goals from centre-back Angelo Ogbonna and forward Diafra Sakho complemented a late Arthur Masuaku stunner for victory in the first home Cup tie of the campaign.
Bilic’s Boys have now made it a surprising three consecutive clean sheets and four in five if you look at all Competitions. Whereas, Phil Parkinson’s men can now add elimination from The Carabao Cup to their dismal start.
Originally, Slaven Bilic made a remarkable ten changes to the Side that drew 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion at the weekend with Cheikhou Kouyate as the only survivor from that starting Xl.
Coming into the Team was keeper Adrian, Marko Arnautovic, Diafra Sakho, skipper Mark Noble, Andre Ayew, Angelo Ogbonna, Sam Byram, debutant Sead Haksabanovic, Arthur Masuaku and Irish prodigy Declan Rice, with places on the bench for fellow youngsters Domingos Quina and Nathan Holland.
Meanwhile, Phil Parkinson opted for six changes to the Team that was turned over at Portman Road last Saturday as he was without young loanee duo Reece Burke and Josh Cullen due to ineligibility against their Parent Club.
Mark Howard, Andy Taylor, Dorian Dervite, Adam Le Fondre, Darren Pratley, Jeff King and Aaron Wilbraham were all additions for The Trotters.
However, Parkinson may have felt like he should have kept some more of his Championship First-Team talent after five minutes when Angelo Ogbonna opened the scoring.
Marko Arnautovic, needing to make a good impression Hammers after last month’s ridiculous red card at The St Mary’s Stadium, drifted in a beautiful 4th-minute free-kick that met the head of the arriving Italian for the opener.
Both of Ogbonna’s goals in Claret & Blue have come in Cup Matches, the other being a winner in a Fourth Round Replay against Liverpool at Upton Park. But, our second of the evening would be scored by a man that has two Cup goals this season alone in the form of Diafra Sakho.
The former Senegal International, hungry to let his goal-scoring abilities do the talking, was in perfect position to receive another Arnautovic delivery with a delicate side foot into the far corner to ensure first-half dominance.
However, the doubling of our advantage could be put more down to the midfield genius of Mark Noble with a deft ball over the top for the Austrian.
Moments earlier, Ayew also came very close to netting his third of the season, but the visitors managed to hold onto a 2-0 deficit at the Break.
Bilic was quoted as saying “We tried to take it easy and make it a little bit fairer for the opposition in the second-half” and that was exactly what we did by sitting back and inviting Bolton on to us.
In doing so, the away Side mustered up a string of late corners but to no avail, allowing Arthur Masuaku to end the Game with a moment of pure magic for his first Hammers goal.
After receiving a pass from Andre Ayew The Frenchman took a touch out of his feet and unleashed a thunderous effort that buried in the top corner, to the amazement and surprise of Mark Howard in The Wanderers net.
The strike perfectly capped off what had been a night for the youngsters at The London Stadium, with the likes of Sead Haksabanovic, Nathan Holland and Domingos Quina all featuring.
Defeat ensures even more worrying times for Bolton as they host Brentford on Saturday in desperate need of a win in a bid to lift themselves off the foot of The Championship Table.
Meanwhile, we have now gone unbeaten in three Games and face up to Spurs in one of Football’s classic Derbies on Saturday lunchtime.
What Did The Managers Say?
“For most of the game, they (Bolton Wanderers) didn’t threaten us, only from a few set-pieces. But at 2-0, it can still be very dodgy”.
“A good point for us is that we ended the Game with a wonder goal from Arthur and to get another clean sheet was very important for us”
On Diafra Sakho and Marko Arnautovic:
“Marko is a great player, we know what he can do and sometimes he gets a little bit happy, but he was desperate to make up for it (his red card against Southampton) tonight and needs to keep on going”.
“Sakho’s attitude and mood is spot on, he is very motivated in training and looks very good, that is why he is playing for us. I am not lying or trying to hide anything but he looks very good”.
“We conceded a cheap goal with a header in the middle of the goal and for a while, we struggled against some really talented players in the West Ham Team”.
“But, in the second-half, we stood strong and there was a real honesty to the way that we went about our business and there was nothing that we could have done about that late wonder strike”.
So, with qualification to round four of the Carabao Cup for the second successive season sealed, will this year be our year to end a 37-year long wait for a major trophy?