LONDON (Reuters) - European hopefuls West Ham United moved closer to the Champions League places on Sunday with a 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Hull City at Upton Park.
The result sent the Hammers up to seventh with 36 points from 22 games, just four behind fourth-placed Manchester United.
After the visitors had battled manfully in the opening period, in-form Andy Carroll opened the scoring for West Ham with a simple finish in the 49th minute.
Substitute Morgan Amalfitano and the impressive Stuart Downing then applied neat finishes within three minutes of each other as West Ham reignited their top-four challenge with a first league victory since Dec. 20.
West Ham have more points at this stage of a Premier League campaign than ever before while Hull are 18th, level with Queens Park Rangers and just two points above bottom-of-the-table Leicester City.
“Today we deserved it,” Carroll told Sky Sports. “Obviously the first half wasn’t a great performance from us but we came out in the second half and got the early goal and created a lot more chances.”
After four Premier League games without a win for West Ham, the visit of goal-shy Hull provided an ideal opportunity to reignite their season. It was the visitors, however, who made the better start.
With several first-choice forwards injured, diminutive Nigeria international Sone Aluko was tasked with leading Hull’s attack and his pace and skill should have yielded an early goal.
He ghosted through the West Ham defense twice in the opening five minutes before a clever cut-back was scuffed wide by Ahmed Elmohamady in the sixth.
West Ham slowly grew into the game and went close through Aaron Cresswell and Enner Valencia before James Tomkins headed over from close range.
Hull looked lively at the other end and missed a great chance when Aluko again drove at the Hammers defense before opting to pass rather than shoot with the goal beckoning.
Hull’s already injury-ravaged squad received another blow when defender James Chester was helped off with a dislocated shoulder. The second half saw West Ham reassert themselves, with Valencia’s speculative shot parried by goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Carroll bundling home the loose ball.
Valencia had a goal ruled offside and substitute Amalfitano then doubled the lead with a delightful chip after 69 minutes.
Three minutes later Alex Song split Hull’s defense with a fantastic pass and Downing, on-on-one with McGregor, applied the routine finish.
Reporting By Tom Hayward, editing by Alan Baldwin