West Ham avoided an enormous upset against AFC Wimbledon thanks to second half goals from Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna and forward Javier Hernandez, cancelling out Joe Pigott’s opener.
The Hammers made nine changes from Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, with Diop and Robert Snodgrass the only ones to keep their spot in the starting XI.
AFC Wimbledon got off to a dream start. A wonderfully whipped in corner from Mitch Pinnock met the head of Joe Pigott, who guided his effort past Adrian to put the hosts in front with two minutes on the clock.
The visitors replied positively but struggled in the final third and often lacked quality in front of goal.
Andriy Yarmolenko, making his full debut for the Hammers, was looking lively and very dangerous early on.
The Dons found themselves reduced to 10-men after Rod Mcdonald pulled Chicharito back, preventing him from meeting a cross and subsequently was given a second yellow card.
Manuel Pellegrini was urging his team forwards, but also instructed the players to remain calm and the goal would eventually come.
However, the home side remained resilient and for all West Ham’s possession, they struggled to break through.
The Hammers’ best chance of the first half fell to Yarmolenko, but his looped header was cleared off the line to keep the score 1-0.
Half time came, and a real sense of optimism surged around the ground for the home fans. 1-0.
Pellegrini decided to change things up to begin the second half, with the introduction of Brazilian play-maker Felipe Anderson for Pedro Obiang. It was time to crank up the pressure.
The first 15 minutes of the second half followed the pattern of the first; plenty of possession for the Hammers, but no significant chances.
However, they finally broke through the stern Wimbledon defence after 63 minutes. Diop was given far too much space to carry the ball forwards and smashed the ball past Tom King from 25 yards. Some goal from the former French U21 defender!
The visitors smelt blood, and Diop nearly doubled his tally two minutes later, but his headed effort from a corner shattered against the crossbar. There was an inevitable belief that a second goal was fast approaching.
And Pellegrini’s side finally took the lead in the 83rd minute. Robert Snodgrass’ excellent corner was met at the back post by defender Ogbonna, who volleyed home from close range. A sigh of relief for the Hammers fans.
Chicharito wrapped up the game for the visitors in stoppage time, as he rounded King and slotted his effort past the backtracking defender to send West Ham into the third round of the Carabao Cup.
A difficult evening for Pellegrini and his team, but they remained patient and eventually their hard work paid off.
West Ham enjoyed 81% possession over the course of the 90 minutes – an extraordinary statistic.
The draw for the third round of the Carabao Cup will take place on Thursday night from 7pm.
It may be too early to be thinking of a trip to Wembley for the Hammers fans, but they will certainly be relishing the idea that their team could be bringing some silverware home this season.
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