NET GAINS: Andre Ayew (centre) nets Swansea's second in their 4-1 victory over West Ham
A COMPOSED and controlled performance from Swansea swept aside West Ham with little resistance. The Swans were already safety ensconced in mid-table but there was much for their travelling support to enjoy in east London.
Francesco Guidolin’s side defended assuredly and had the craft to leave the Boleyn Ground with four goals to accompany their three points. Ki Sung-yeung in particular stood out for the visitors with his constant probing and intelligent movement, which were rewarded when he claimed his side’s third goal with a tidy finish.
Defeat for West Ham all but ended their slim chances of a top four finish. Slaven Bilic deserves enormous credit for delivering his club’s greatest Premier League-era points total but the defensive solidity and exciting approach play that has defined their season was largely absent here.
The east Londoners started promisingly. Chances for Dimitri Payet and Winston Reid seemed like appetisers ahead of an early goal but the opposite proved to be true. Swansea kept their hosts at arm’s length and claimed the opener themselves against the run of play on 25 minutes.
Ki crossed for Kyle Naughton, who squared for Wayne Routledge to punish West Ham’s dozing defence with a simple tap in.
The hosts were to suffer again on 31 minutes when Stephen Kingsley won possession in midfield and fired in a cross for Andre Ayew to stab beyond Darren Randolph. The Ghanaian took advantage of the ponderous centre-back pairing of Reid and Angelo Ogbonna to compound West Ham’s frustration.
Payet sprayed the ball about with his usual aplomb and nearly found his range with several free-kicks but in the first half but West Ham were too slow and their passing sloppy at times. Both Ogbonna and Manuel Lanzini passed up presentable opportunities but Swansea were good value for their lead.
They were to extend it further on 51 minutes when Ayew turned provider to fire in a cross from the left for Ki. It was a third composed finished as the Korean opened up his body and slotted the ball into the far corner of Randolph’s goal. Three times West Ham had been undone from crosses.
It finally seemed to stir something in Bilic’s men, who went close when Michail Antonio turned Jordi Amat inside out but could not beat Lukasz Fabianski in the Swansea goal. Nor could Andy Carroll hit the target from the rebound.
West Ham found a way through the Swansea backline on 68 minutes when substitute Diafra Sakho scrambled the ball home to reduce his side’s deficit. But it was not to signal a comeback. Swansea were to add to their lead and defended with minimal fuss despite a series of desperate penalty appeals from the home support, which found little traction with their team on the pitch.
The fourth goal came in second half injury time when a neat exchange between Ayew and substitute Bafetemi Gomis was finished by the Frenchman. The rush for the exits in most home sections had long since begun.