Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United made history last night at the London Stadium, as they rallied to thrash Sky Bet League Two side Macclesfield Town 8-0 in Round Three of the Carabao Cup, their biggest victory in 35 years. Today, we analyse Five Massive Moments from the resoundingly one-sided cup tie, join us.
Pellegrini Opts To Give Youth A Chance In East London
Our first Massive Moment didn’t come within the 90 minutes of regulation play at the London Stadium, but hours before kick-off, when Pellegrini decided on his starting Xl and matchday squad.
It would have been easy for the two-time winner of the League Cup as a manager to have stuck to his guns and kept the team very similar from Sunday’s league draw with Chelsea, wanting to make sure of a place in the next round.
However, the gaffer was bold and switched things up, making nine changes in terms of the starting XI and many more when it came to the substitutes’ bench, including the selection of four recent Academy of Football graduates.
This paved the way for a special, special night for the club’s famous Academy, with three stars of the Development Squad making their debuts and playing a key hand in the eight-goal whitewash.
The only one of them to start, attacker Grady Diangana, scored twice and claimed the Man of the Match award, while second-half substitute Joe Powell bagged two assists, coincidentally for Diangana’s goals, as Conor Coventry also impressed, after replacing Pedro Obiang at half-time, Pellegrini couldn’t have got it more right.
Adrian Saves West Ham’s Blushes
While the end scoreline may suggest that it was a very easy night for West Ham on home soil, this wasn’t always the case, as there was a certain Massive Moment in the first period, that could have changed the course of the entire evening.
The hosts had controlled the game in the early stages, without threatening the Macclesfield goal, too much, however, as Pellegrini said after the match, they knew the goal was coming, they just had to wait.
But, it was while being patient that the East Londoners fell asleep at back, despite having a strong defence on display and so very nearly conceded a goal to the lowest-ranked side in the English Football League.
The Silkmen hoisted a long throw-in from the right from James Pearson on 17 minutes, Fiacre Kelleher was there to flick it on, into the path of his teammate Harry Smith.
He met it with a close-range volley, from which stand-in skipper Adrian San-Miguel was forced to parry away, the follow-up effort from veteran Danny Whitaker was fired wide, but it was a let-off for the home side, how different would things have been, had this hit the back of the net?
Antonio Breaks The Deadlock For Hammers
The visitors, whose only wins this season have come from three penalty shootouts, would be, inevitably, made to pay for missing their one and only missed chance of the night.
It had been coming for some time for Pellegrini’s men and as the half-hour mark approached, the resolute defending and resistance of Macclesfield was about to be bowled over.
Substitute Declan Rice, who had seen his header cleared off the line moments earlier, to win the initial corner, had recovered the ball after Snodgrass’ corner was cleared, with the help of his former U23 teammate Diangana.
The two-time Young Hammer of the Year looked up and spotted Michail Antonio in between, in the middle of the box, finding him with an intricate delivery, for the striker to head down and home past Manchester United loanee Kieran O’Hara.
It was Antonio’s first of the season and a Massive Moment in terms of his campaign and the whole match as it very much opened up the floodgates and allowed the Hammers to score more and more, doubling and tripling their lead before the break, through Snodgrass and Lucas Perez’ first goal in Claret & Blue.
Fredericks Gets Irons Going Again In Style
Three to the good at half-time, it would have made sense for the hosts to wind things down a little bit in the second period, dropping the intensity as the game was already over and perhaps grabbing a further goal per two.
However, this wasn’t what 24,833 fans, well the West Ham ones, anyway, wanted to see and clearly, neither did Pellegrini either, with the East London outfit keeping their foot on the accelerator.
A major deal of credit for this goes to our fourth Massive Moment, the one that came early in the second half and allowed them to push on, really putting the Silkmen to the sword and ultimately, netting an outrageous eight goals.
It came in the form of right-back and summer signing Ryan Fredericks’ first strike for the club and what a strike it was, one that displayed a glimpse of why Pellegrini was so keen to capture him on a free transfer from newly-promoted Fulham.
The speedy defender received a pass from Snodgrass on the right, driving at the defenders, before smashing a rocket of a shot into the far-sided top corner with the help of the underside of the crossbar, O’Hara no chance and West Ham four up with 50 minutes barely on the cock.
Diangana Puts The Cherry On The Cake
After Snodgrass and Angelo Ogbonna had troubled the scorers two further times for the boys in Claret & Blue, with respective sweeping finishes from the centre of the penalty area, it was time for our fifth and final on a night of Massive Moments at London Stadium.
For his relentless, skillful and workman-like performance on his full debut for the club he has been at for ten years, Diangana was deserving of a goal, which was something he would finally get, in the 66th-minute.
The 20-year-old had been aided by the introduction of his close friend and comrade Powell, just four minutes earlier and the pair would link well for what Diangana hopes will be the first of many for the Hammers.
The No45 picked up the ball outside of the Macclesfield area, playing a delightful one-two with Powell to find himself in a better position, dribbling past defenders to squeeze a low effort underneath O’Hara, who got a slight touch, and in.
The strike was met by a roar from the London Stadium faithful and was periodically followed by his second inside the final ten minutes, which also involved a Powell assist and a close-range besting of the Red Devils man between the sticks, rounding off what was a wonderful evening for everyone associated with the home team.
So, now that all the Massive Moments as Pellegrini’s Hammers made it three matches unbeaten in all competitions, in some fashion, have been well and truly analysed, will we have yet more positive ones to look back on come next Monday, in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s United’s league visit to the London Stadium? Join us once again, then, to find out.