West Ham United continued their fine run of form without talisman Dimitri Payet, as they picked up a fantastic 3-1 away win against Middlesbrough with Andy Carroll netting twice.
The opening 45 minutes began at a scintillating pace, with the first sight on goal coming in the 2nd minute. A fantastic diagonal ball from Winston Reid out wide saw a lovely one-two between Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini. Unfortunately Cresswell's wonderful cross was put wide by Michail Antonio, who couldn't convert from two yards out.
From the opening whistle West Ham took the initiative and it didn't take long for them to break the deadlock in the 9th minute. A superb in-swinging corner by Manuel Lanzini from the left-hand-side saw Andy Carroll attack the near post, as he placed an unstoppable header past Victor Valdes.
West Ham then had a penalty appeal in the 18th minute turned down by referee Martin Atkinson, who deemed Adam Clayton not to have impeded Captain Mark Noble; however further replays suggested West Ham might have had a shout for a spot kick.
Middlesbrough's man of the first half Adama Traore pushed The Hammers onto the back foot, as The Smoggies' began to regain control of the possession and the overall momentum.
Seven minutes later they capitalised from a goal-kick when Alvaro Negredo laid the ball down to Traore on the right, who found Calum Chambers in acres of space. With only one man (Sam Byram) to squeeze the ball past in the box, Chambers' hard low cross to the back post was turned in by Stuani, sending keeper Darren Randolph the wrong way.
With half time looming and the game balanced at one a piece, Aaron Cresswell found Michail Antonio on the edge of the box, with a stinging right-footed strike at Valdes' near post saw the shot spill out, with none other than Andy Carroll following up like all good strikers to tap in and take a 2-1 lead at half time.
West Ham were then left to feel aggrieved once more when Adam Clayton brought down Sofiane Feghouli in the box, which again was waved away by referee Martin Atkinson. Much like the previous penalty shout, further replays suggested West Ham could have easily had their second penalty of the game.
The second half didn't produce the same goal filled action as the first and instead took for West Ham to show their defensive quality instead.
Victor Valdes was forced into an early save three minutes into the second half, when a lovely through ball from Andy Carroll couldn't be converted by Manuel Lanzini's low curling attempt.
Unfortunately Captain Mark Noble had to be forced off through a knee injury in the 54th minute; it was at this point the hosts really brought the game to West Ham. Wave after wave they came forward, however The Hammers were resolute, with a special mention going to Winston Reid who was outstanding.
Andy Carroll’s day took a turn for the worse; he was also substituted in the 67th minute due to an apparent groin injury.
The best chance of the second half for Middlesbrough fell to Stuani, who unbeknown to him had Cresswell’s clearance rebound off his knee and onto the frame of the goal. Middlesbrough then had another chance to level the game when substitute Rudy Gestede couldn't keep his scissor-kick on target, going wide of Darren Randolph's post four minutes from time.
With a minute remaining, West Ham wrapped up the game with a flurry of short sharp passes in the Boro box, leading for Manuel Lanzini's gorgeous cutback to be struck home from Jonathan Calleri. Although it saw a massive deflection off the back off Adam Clayton, it goes down as his maiden goal for the club.
West Ham will regroup filled with confidence, as their next test proves to be a difficult one, as they welcome Manchester City back to the London Stadium.