Jesse Lingard Scores Twice In Dream West Ham Debut Against Aston Villa
Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard bagged a brace on his West Ham debut, becoming the club's first player to do so in 23 years.
It's no wonder the notoriously dour David Moyes cracked one of the biggest smiles of his career at the end of West Ham’s 3-1 defeat of Aston Villa.
Having packed off expensive failure Sebastien Haller in the transfer window, he watched Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard score twice on his debut, becoming the first player to do so for West Ham since Trevor Sinclair in 1998.
Lingard, making his first Premier League start all season, has now scored just one goal fewer than Haller managed in 16 outings this season and his joy was palpable.
“I was smiling before the game, during the game…I just love football and enjoy playing," Lingard said.
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It’s been a long time. I enjoyed myself and came out with two goals and three points, which was the most important thing.
Lingard had some good fortune with Villa keeper Emi Martinez having a terrible night.
Martinez was soft in trying to keep out Lingard’s first while the second goes down as a howler, with Lingard having struck the ball straight at the former Arsenal keeper.
Moyes had called for patience before the game, saying Lingard’s lack of game time – he’s only featured three times in any competition this season – would count against him. The former Man United manager didn’t have to be patient for long.
“That’s a lovely night for Jesse Lingard,” Chelsea legend Andy Townsend said in a commentary on Optus Sport.
“There’s a talented boy there. He lost his way at Man United. In some ways it’s understandable, there are an of talented players there and he’s not in United's best XI.
“He played very well tonight and gave a reminder to one or two that he can play.”
Lingard combined well with Michail Antonio to fashion a shot from the right of the box after Villa had cut the Hammers lead to 2-1 midway through the second half.
“Excellent work from Antonio and Lingard but this one’s down to the goalkeeper,” said Townsend.
“It’s hit straight at him and he’s got to save that. Martinez has been so good this season, such a good signing, but tonight hasn’t been one of his better games and that one, in particular, he won’t like.
“That’s a routine stop for a goalkeeper of his class. But credit Jesse Lingard, you take a chance and it can happen. He’s enjoyed his night.”
Jesse for England? “We worked hard as a collective to get the result and we’re just focused on the next game," said Lingard, who did not look like a player who had been with the team for less than a week. He linked well with Antonio - who provided him with two assists - and Saïd Benrahma. “The team has been great with me and I’ve settled in quickly,” Lingard said.
“I know some familiar faces, which has helped, and as long as we work hard on the training ground and on matchday [we’ll get more results like this].
“In training, we’ve had that connection as well and I feel like I’ve bedded in quickly, so come the matchday it’s easy to play with Michail. As a team and as a collective we worked hard and that showed.”
Lingard played the last of his 24 England internationals almost two years ago, and while Townsend said a return looked unlikely thanks to the form of James Maddison, Jack Grealish, and Phil Foden among others, Moyes raised the idea in his post-match interview.
"It’s a great start for Jesse Lingard and a great start for us because the confidence it gives us seeing people come in and make a difference and help the team is huge," said Moyes.
"You’ve got to remember he was an England international not so long ago. He’s still young enough to get back to that and I tell you what, he showed some qualities tonight.
"I think people felt they could give him the ball and trust him with it, whether he was going to turn or play one-touch or make things happen.
"We know he has a goal threat about him as well and he was capable of adding to the team. "We’re trying to keep ourselves hungry and energetic. We might not always play well, but we’ll have a team the supporters will always come and see running around and giving everything, so let’s hope that continues."
Moyes added: “If he keeps that form up then it might be Gareth coming knocking again. “He will have his own ambitions and challenges to show people he is at a level and he showed a really good level, Ross Barkley is very much the same for Villa.
“There are a lot of people who are pushing hard to make the England squad for the Euros and why shouldn’t Jesse push if he’s in the form he is in tonight?
“If he keeps playing as well as he did he will do a brilliant job for West Ham and if he keeps going like that then he’ll get back into the England squad. I hope he can get back to that standard.”
How West Ham's game has changed West Ham moved into fifth – just two points behind Liverpool who lost to Brighton at Anfield. Villa is ninth, a point behind eighth-placed Chelsea but with a game in hand, and face a difficult program ahead.
“The games are relentless, coming in so thick and fast you don’t have time to dwell on the positive results or a disappointing one,” said Townsend.
“Villa have to take it on the chin. They haven’t really got up to speed tonight. “The sharpness and combinations in their forward play just weren’t there.”
Townsend was impressed with the Hammers' defensive efforts, suggesting they had improved significantly in that area this season.
“It’s been a very good defensive display,” said Townsend. “Ogbonna has been really good all season. Dawson tonight again has been solid. Cresswell superb, never really threatened.
Declan Rice as ever composed in possession. And they’ve had a bit of menace in their forward play tonight.
“They’ve worked hard all night - pressurized Villa into mistakes.
“Whenever they’ve had a chance to hunt the ball down they’ve done it in numbers, in packs and I’m very impressed with the way they’ve done that. It’s not something you’ve always associated with West Ham, that real off the ball work rate.
“They’ve always had talented boys and able to do it occasionally, but it’s been a real consistent thread running through this game – whenever they’ve gone out of possession they’ve got the ball back quickly and if they can’t get it back they keep a nice solid shape and are hard to play through. They’ve got a nice balance with their defensive work."
Credit: Optus Sport