The Hornets shot themselves in the foot inside two minutes when Abdoulaye Doucoure caught Manuel Lanzini in the box, and Mark Noble stepped up to slot home from the spot on his 350th Premier League appearance.
But Watford responded to level with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass. However, the Hornets were punished for their wastefulness in front of goal with just three of their 23 shots finding the target.
Only Hughes will know how he did not improve that ratio when, in the 55th minute, he met Gray’s fizzed centre at the far post after the striker had skipped around Lukasz Fabianski. It was a sitter but, perhaps seeing the ball late, Hughes turned it wide from a matter of inches.
Reprieved, West Ham recovered some of the momentum they had at the start of the game and quickly punished the hosts for their failures in front of goal when Haller restored the Hammers’ lead in the 64th minute, turning home Felipe Anderson’s low cross. Haller’s second then came eight minutes later after Michail Antonio met Lanzini’s corner with a header that Ben Foster tipped onto the bar with the French striker reacting well to head home the rebound from close range.
The post-match mood was sombre. As last week against Everton, we faced a team that we could and should have beaten, but we were undone by our lack of clinical finishing and the generosity of our defence. Dawson is getting a lot of criticism, but he was left exposed by Femenía who certainly adds to our attacking options but is so often missing in defence. I was encouraged by a lot of the forward play but, too often, the players wait for the perfect sight of goal and end up losing out to a defender.