West Ham won their first pre-season game this afternoon 3-0 in the Franz-Fekete-Stadion in Austria against their German opponents FC Karlsruher.
Goals from Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli and Ashley Fletcher ensured the Hammers won the game at a canter.
The Hammers named their strongest pre-season line-up thus far which included Darren Randolph in goal.
The back four consisted of Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell at fullback and the returning Winston Reid and Norwegian International Havard Nordtveit at centreback. Captain Mark Noble anchored the midfield with Cheikh Kouyate. Sofiane Feghouli started on the right wing with Gokhan Tore on the left and Enner Valencia partnered Andy Carroll up front.
The Irons started the game on fire and took the lead in the 9th minute when Carroll powered a header into the net after Valencia found him at the back post with a perfect cross. Two minutes later and the Hammers almost doubled their lead as Antonio battled his way past Sallahi but his effort was blocked by the keeper’s legs.
The Hammers eventually doubled their lead in the 17th minute with Sofiane Feghouli’s first goal for the club. Sofiane beat the diving keeper from 22 yards with a decent strike. Four minutes later and superb interlinking play between Feghouli and Tore nearly resulted in the Algerian getting in on goal but the Germans managed to clear the danger.
Karlsruher rarely threatened despite the fact they had three free kicks within 25 yards of Randolph’s goal in the first half but none of the efforts even came close to troubling the Irishman.
The German side made many changes at the break but never really troubled the West Ham backline with the excellent Reid and sturdy Nordtveit.
The third goal came in the 80th minute with Ashley Fletcher notching his 2nd of pre-season when he connected from close range from Cresswell’s cross.
Unfortunately that was Aaron’s last real touch before he was on the wrong end of a terrible two footed tackle. Thankfully he was able to get up onto his own feet after a couple of minutes and walk off the pitch. Hopefully he hasn’t suffered any injury.
The referee actually ended the game in the 88th minute as tempers rose after the challenge.
I think that this is exactly what Slaven wanted to see from the club’s final pre-season game before their Europa League campaign starts next Thursday. Good finishing from Carroll who got a 60 minute shift in. Excellent interplay between Feghouli and Tore, dominance in midfield from Noble and Kouyate and solid at the back between Reid and Nordtveit. Hopefully though Cresswell is okay as that is one position the Hammers can ill afford to lose their best player for any length of time. The squad will now remain in Austria to prepare for their away leg against NK Domzale next Thursday in Slovenia.