Soccer-Breezy Brighton in one-sided win over listless Hammers
BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) - Brighton & Hove Albion beat a listless West Ham United 4-0 at home in the Premier League on Saturday in a one-sided performance to enhance their chances of qualifying for European competition next season.
Alexis Mac Allister, Joel Veltman, Kaoru Mitoma and Danny Welbeck were the scorers as Brighton dominated from start to finish and recorded their biggest win of the league season.
Mac Allister's first-half penalty was followed by an unusual finish off his chest from Veltman in the 51st minute.
Mitoma then turned the ball in at the back post 18 minutes later before substitute Welbeck hammered home on the stroke of fulltime as Brighton moved onto 38 points, one behind seventh placed Fulham, who have played two matches more.
West Ham remain in 16th spot, just above the relegation zone.
The opening goal came after 18 minutes as Brighton were handed a soft penalty when Jarrod Bowen knocked over Mitoma in the West Ham penalty area after getting caught on the wrong side of the Japanese winger.
Mac Allister dispatched the spot kick for his first Premier League goal since winning the World Cup with Argentina as Brighton continued their 100% return from the penalty spot this season.
West Ham, who showed little attacking intent to the irritation of manager David Moyes, did force a double save from Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele in their only first half breakaway. Steele, making his first league appearance of the season, blocked efforts from both Bowen and Tomas Soucek.
But for the rest of the contest, it was Brighton on the front foot with the second goal coming from a corner as Mac Allister flicked on for an unmarked Veltman at the back post to use his chest to steer the ball home.
Mitoma’s slide in at the back post finished off Pascal Gross' pass in the 69th minute, at the end of another of Brighton’s swift attacks.
Substitute Julio Enciso might have added the fourth goal but his shot was pipped onto the woodwork by West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the closing stages but it was not long before Welbeck did make it 4-0 with a shot from just inside the penalty area.
All of this was achieved without Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi, banned from the touchline for one game by the FA after he was shown a red card following his side's home defeat by Fulham last month.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)