West Ham gained a crucial win over Southampton in the Premier League’s congested relegation scrap to lift themselves out of the bottom three and leave their opponents at the foot of the table.
Nayef Aguerd guided home an precise first-half header from Thilo Kehrer’s free-kick, although the goal was only awarded after a lengthy VAR check for offside.
Until deep into the second half, when Gavin Bazunu turned away Said Benrahma’s goalbound free-kick, it was the Hammers’ only effort on target.
However, for large parts, Southampton were ineffective.
Lukasz Fabianski did make a couple of routine saves to deny Romeo Lavia and Carlos Alcaraz but the nearest they came was in the final minutes when £18m forward Paul Onuachu, who is still to score since joining the club from Genk in January, headed against the bar.
Victory lifted West Ham to 14th. Ruben Selles, meanwhile, faces a difficult week, knowing six of the other eight teams in the relegation fight play at least once – and many twice – before his Southampton side play again.
Saints’ struggles continue
The brutal truth is Southampton’s record since Ralph Hasenhuttl’s dismissal on 7 November is worse than it had been beforehand.
Having already dispensed with the Austrian’s replacement, Nathan Jones, it would appear the Saints board have little option other than to stick with Selles, who has secured some eye-catching results without getting Southampton to a point where they could have genuine hopes of getting away from trouble.
They remain in the unenviable position of knowing that, realistically, they will remain in the bottom three even if they win their next game – which is against in-form Manchester City on 8 April (17:30 BST) – and they have played more matches than the six teams immediately above them.
James Ward-Prowse remains their talisman and he did provide the cross Onuachu headed against the bar but West Ham prevented the midfielder getting a sight of goal, either in free play or, crucially, from a set-piece.
Lavia might have caught Fabianski out with his low shot into a crowded penalty area but the veteran keeper, returning after a fractured cheekbone, readjusted his position and made the save.
In addition to facing City, Southampton have trips to Arsenal and Newcastle before the month is out, which, on this evidence, will not make any supporter feel optimistic about escaping from their present predicament.