West Ham pay for rejecting Southampton's Austin in English Premier League
Southampton forward Charlie Austin exacted sweet revenge on a club which once questioned his fitness as West Ham lost their fourth straight English Premier League game yesterday.
Austin's goal and assist at the Olympic Stadium gave Southampton a 3-0 victory over a team whose top official had said he wouldn't sign the player due to the state of his knee.
In August 2015, West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan told an unofficial club podcast: "They say he (Austin) has no ligaments in his knee, who knows?"
But Austin proved his worth for Southampton, scoring his fifth goal in four games in all competitions to dispel any doubts about his physical condition or ability.
Having seen his side score more than one goal for the first time in the Premier League this season, Southampton manager Claude Puel praised Austin's clinical play.
"He can score very nice goals and I think he scored with his first chance," said Puel. "This shows a striker's confidence."
The win means mid-table Southampton have eight points from six matches, while West Ham are struggling in the relegation zone with three points from six games.
West Ham conceded three or more goals for the fourth consecutive league game. Coach Slaven Bilic said the players were low on confidence but hinted that he wanted players to be harder on each other.
"Heavy defeats against Watford and West Brom started the situation with the confidence," said the former Croatia manager. "The players are good with each other - they are maybe too good with each other."
There were pre-match fears over crowd trouble following violence during the league match against Watford. Off the pitch at least, the game passed more peacefully for the hosts this time. While a significant minority of West Ham fans again chose to ignore pre-match warnings over persistent standing at the club's new stadium, the stewards appeared to take a more lenient approach.