Aston Villa patiently played crisp passes, looking to unlock West Ham’s sturdy backline, while David Moyes’ side tried to hit them on the counter-attack.
Villa got the best of their opponents in the opening exchanges and created the first big chance.
Villa continued to probe and eventually found joy after 29 minutes through a well-worked move involving Watkins, Nicolo Zaniolo and Douglas Luiz.
The Brazilian received the ball from Watkins on the edge of the box and fired through a body of West Ham players to net his fifth goal this season.
Villa had the bit between their teeth, and the electric Diaby set up Watkins, whose shot scared Alphonse Areola.
The home side had dominated proceedings for 40 minutes, but the momentum began to shift.
Ezri Konsa had his heart in his mouth when he was adjudged to have used his hand to prevent a shot, but it was outside the box.
James Ward Prowse’s free-kick hit the wall, but the Englishman was getting into his groove.
He played a lovely dinked pass that Lucas Paqueta acrobatically dragged wide. The match went into the half-time break with Villa having a one-goal lead.
Villa had a deserved lead, but West Ham showed they could find a way back into the game if they could get their final passes right.
The Villains started the second half the way they did the first, and Diaby found Watkins in the box, but Kurt Zouma stuck out a leg to block.
West Ham inflicted themselves with penury minutes later. Paqueta overplayed at the back, and Edson Alvarez brought Konsa down under pressure to concede a penalty.
Luiz had scored three penalties this season and confidently converted a fourth to double the lead and his tally.
West Ham needed a stroke of luck and got it when a relatively quiet Jarrod Bowen fired a hopeful shot from outside the box.
The ball took a wild deflection off Pau Torres to beat Emiliano Martinez. It was Bowen’s 100th goal in senior football.
A resurgent West Ham began to pierce through Unai Emery’s side as they sought an equaliser. Michail Antonio had been poor in the first half but was causing problems for Pau Torres.
The Jamaican international fizzed in a dangerous cross that Matty Cash had to turn away.
However, despite the West Ham pressure, Villa regained their two-goal lead. Poor control from substitute Mohammed Kudus gave the ball to John McGinn, who dinked in a pass for Watkins.
Watkins turned Zouma before rifling a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.
Bowen forced a save from Martinez with ten minutes to go as West Ham fought stubbornly to take something.
Villa closed out the game with a fourth as substitutes Youri Tielemans and Leon Bailey combined before the latter found the top corner after showing good footwork.
It was Villa’s day, as they held on and took all three points. This was their 11th consecutive home victory while continuing their hot scoring streak.
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