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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Kassam Stadium
As League One Oxford United bundled from their Carabao Cup in humiliating fashion his side west Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini took duty.
The Hammers arrived in the Kassam Stadium on the rear of an outstanding triumph over Manchester United to reach the peaks of fifth in the Premier League, however, Karl Robinson’s side beautifully outplayed and then over-powered their illustrious opponents, who ended a whole shambles.
Oxford, currently 12th in League One, were packed with confidence after a record-breaking 6-0 triumph in Lincoln City in the weekend and this was a famous and merited triumph.
“The entire team did not play well. Did we concede four goals, but we didn’t create a lot of opportunities,” Pellegrini said.
“We missed too many passes from the beginning and also the obligation will be on me since I picked the gamers, and also second on the staff which didn’t compete.
“It’s simple to say we played quite badly, but Oxford did what they needed to win this game. They played with a lot of motivation, together with desire and we did not play well.”
Both sides fielded much-changed sides and the only surprise was West Ham before withdrawing after 55 minutes when Roberto was shot across by central defender Elliott Moore, really endured for so long.
Oxford, that missed clear chances in the first half by Cameron Brannagan and Anthony Forde, nearly increased their lead quickly as Roberto saved brilliantly from Jamie Mackie.
But there was no escape for West Ham as substitute Matty Taylor switched in Mark Sykes’ cross with 19 seconds left.
Heal Tariqe Fosu, a hat-trick enthusiast at Lincoln City, raced clear from the halfway line to score with wonderful composure after 84 minutes to extinguish any hopes of a West Ham comeback.
The agony was not over for West Ham boss Pellegrini along with his abject side as Shandon Baptiste deservedly restricted a man-of-the-match showing having a fourth.
Oxford host fellow League One side Sunderland, who won 1-0 at Sheffield United, from the fourth round in the week beginning 28 October.
“Looking in the scoreboard – 4-0 against West Ham and an extremely powerful West Ham – this will probably go down as one of the biggest results in the Kassam in the past several years,” Oxford manager Robinson said.
The EFL Cup represented a sensible opportunity for West Ham to win a prize, but Pellegrini lacked this jolt by making nine adjustments, leaving out danger men Sebastien Haller along with Felipe Anderson.
He paid the price since the Hammers made a distressed screen, much to the annoyance of the fans who packed a single corner of the three-sided scene.
West Ham were slow off the pace and apparently complacent as they were hustled from the stride as the track-suited Pellegrini didn’t inspire his group.
He kept Haller back until they were down a goal but after which the momentum was flowing in the direction of Oxford, that ought to have inflicted even sexier punishment as they ran riot to the conclusion.
Jack Wilshere wasted an opportunity to stake a claim as he had been over-run by the power of Baptiste. Wilshere looked a spent force in contrast.
It was reminiscent of West Ham’s loss at League One AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup fourth round last year as they lacked heart and stomach for the fight, surrendering without suggesting for one moment they would get into this match once Oxford went forward.
West Ham have revealed evidence of stability and improvement in the Premier League, which was an altered line-up, but their operation was inexcusable and all the plaudits must go to the underdogs.
“I believed it was a bad performance from everybody,” said Hammers captain Zabaleta.
“We feel sorry about the performance tonight and sorry to the away fans who came to the game. It was just a terrible night.”
This competition gave Oxford the best day in their history if they beat QPR at Wembley in 1986 – which is a night that will even live long in the memory of the jubilant fans.
West Ham made adjustments however, for context, Oxford manager Robinson also made six adjustments and his group coped much better with these alterations.
Oxford were in control from the very first whistle, sensing immediately that West Ham were not in the right frame of mind to face a lower league opponent chose to inflict a shock.
Robinson might have feared the first-half misses from Brannagan and Forde may infect thembut they won at a canter and it wouldn’t have been unfair had they enjoyed a much larger success margin.
Oxford have scored 10 goals without reply in their past two games and this scoreline was a more than accurate reflection of the gulf between the 2 sides.
Baptiste was outstanding in midfield, the veteran Mackie was a threat throughout and it’s huge charge to Robinson and his players they never took a backward step once Moore place them ahead 10 minutes following the rest.
Oxford continued to become more daring and move in search of targets, along with the celebrations on and off the pitch at the final whistle were totally deserved.
This is a night of shame for West Ham, but it would be a insult and dedication to downgrade the quality of Oxford’s performance that brought this outstanding victory.
“We had the impression in ourselves that we could get a result,” Robinson explained. “I’m on the moon for those fans and the players.
“It’s about the players, on the fans and also around the neighborhood of Oxfordshire and also the huge factor for me today is the men and women who came here for the first time in quite a while, that they purchase a ticket and come on Saturday [for the Celtics match against Gillingham].”
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