|match review copied from |
West Ham United 2 Queens Park Rangers 0
Diafra Sakho scored his fifth goal in as many games as West Ham climbed into the top half of the Barclays Premier League table with a convincing 2-0 victory over QPR.
Nedum Onuoha's own-goal had given the Hammers an early lead before Sakho headed home a second shortly before the hour to ensure QPR head into the international break bottom of the table with just four points from their first seven games.
West Ham fully deserved their victory and it could have been more emphatic had the referee not spared the blushes of Rob Green, whose bizarre free-kick allowed Enner Valencia to slot home in the second half before his effort was disallowed.
The victory means the Hammers are now level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool, with Sam Allardyce's side again showing pace and tempo that was so often painfully lacking last season.
Valencia and Sakho have added some much-needed pace in the final third but it is Stewart Downing who has been the team's greatest discovery and the 30-year-old's resurgence continued against Rangers.
Playing on the left of a midfield diamond but in a deeper, more central role, Downing's raking passes forward provided the base from which his team-mates could chase, collect and drive in behind QPR's creaking defence.
A more adventurous style of play has come at the cost of defensive solidity and Allardyce will also take heart from his side's first clean sheet of the campaign.
The Hammers boss made two changes to the side that lost at Old Trafford as Carl Jenkinson and Mauro Zarate replaced the injured Guy Demel and Diego Poyet.
Harry Redknapp brought Karl Henry and Junior Hoilett into his starting XI as well as Onuoha, who made his first league start of the season.
Onuoha's day got off to the worst possible start as the visitors failed to clear Downing's corner and the ball deflected off the defender's leg and into the QPR net.
Buoyed by their early goal, the Hammers continued to dominate the early stages and almost doubled their lead when Sakho's ball found Valencia but the Ecuador striker slipped and prodded wide.
It took 24 minutes for QPR to create their first real opening as Charlie Austin wriggled past Jenkinson into the penalty area but the forward's side-foot finish was easily saved by Adrian.
It was the Hammers, however, who were dictating the tempo of the match and Valencia came close to scoring a second shortly before the half-hour - but he was just unable to reach Mauro Zarate's cross at the back post after Winston Reid had flicked on.
Redknapp replaced Hoilett with Bobby Zamora at half-time and the striker, who spent four and a half seasons at Upton Park, made an instant impact, crossing for Austin who fired wide from close range.
QPR were playing with more urgency after the interval but any momentum they had was lost in the 59th minute as West Ham added a second.
Rangers failed to clear another set-piece and James Tomkins did brilliantly to loop the ball to the back post where Sakho was waiting to nod home a simple finish.
QPR were visibly deflated and moments later, Green almost handed the hosts a third.
Perhaps trying to prove Valencia was too close to his free-kick, the experienced goalkeeper passed the ball straight to the striker, who duly rolled the it into the net before the referee generously ordered a retake.
With the result all but sealed, West Ham pressed on for a third in the latter stages and substitute Kevin Nolan should have found it but was unable to beat Green after Downing's clever pull-back.
It made little difference, however, as Allardyce's side sealed a valuable victory to leave QPR still searching for form, confidence and their first away point of the season.