Michail Antonio scored his seventh goal in five games as West Ham all but secured another season in the English Premier League with a 3-1 win that kept Watford in relegation trouble on Friday.
The Hammers struck three times in a dominant opening 36 minutes to leave Watford reeling, moving David Moyes’ side six points clear of the drop zone with two games to go.
“It’s got us in a really strong position,” West Ham manager David Moyes said, “and I’m hoping that we can win more games but if we don’t then I’m hoping that the points total will also be enough to keep us up.”
Antonio gave West Ham the lead in the sixth minute and it was doubled by a header from Tomas Soucek.
Declan Rice fired in the third from distance in the 36th minute as West Ham went into the break in complete control.
Troy Deeney pulled one back for Watford at the start of the second half, but the visitors struggled to impose themselves on the game, despite having periods of possession after the interval.
The result leaves Watford just three points above the relegation zone, and facing daunting remaining matches against Manchester City and Arsenal.
Nigel Pearson was hired as manager when Watford had just nine points from 16 games. The team has taken 25 points from 20 matches but has lost five consecutive Premier League away matches.
“It’s a game which has passed us by somewhat in the first half, performance wise,” Pearson said. “It’s not what I would expect from us and it’s very disappointing. We’ve got to find a win now in the last two games.
“It’s not easy to deal with. I didn’t think we were resilient enough collectively. I’m not saying everybody was, we had some spirited performances out there, but we were not what I would expect from us. Whether that’s the pressure of the situation, who knows? But now we have to find good performances in the last two games to give us chances of winning those games, it’s as simple as that.”