David Moyes said Jesse Lingard has the potential to make England’s European Championship squad after he scored twice on his West Ham debut as they cruised past Aston Villa.
Manchester United loanee Lingard – making his first Premier League start in 13 months – netted West Ham’s second with a thunderous effort after 56 minutes.
And the 28-year-old doubled his tally in the closing stages after Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez failed to hold on to his strike.
“It is great when you bring someone in and they do well,” West Ham boss Moyes told BBC Sport.
“If he keeps up the form he showed tonight, and he is not completely match fit, scoring the goals, he will not be far way from Gareth Southgate’s England squad in the summer.”
Midfielder Tomas Soucek had put the visitors in front at Villa Park, finishing off Said Benrahma’s pass in the 51st minute.
Ollie Watkins gave Villa a glimmer of hope, making it 2-1 with nine minutes remaining, before Lingard’s second wrapped up the points for the Hammers.
West Ham remain fifth, two points behind fourth-placed Liverpool who lost 1-0 at home to Brighton, while Villa stay ninth, six points behind the Hammers.
‘Smiling’ Lingard makes perfect start
Coming into this fixture, Lingard hadn’t played a Premier League match since the final day of last season, and had only made three cup appearances for his parent club this campaign.
But Moyes put the midfielder into his starting line-up, and the England international showed his creativity from the off. No West Ham player had more shots or touches in the final third in the opening period.
“We didn’t feel like we did enough [in our 3-1 loss to Liverpool] at the weekend but we did today,” added Moyes.
“Jesse helped us with that. We had to play well because of Villa’s quality.
“He will help us no end before the summer. All round a really great performance.”
Lingard, Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell all forced fine saves from Villa keeper Martinez in a first half dominated by the away side.
West Ham’s new number 11 fully deserved his first goal, striking the ball through the fingertips of Martinez moments after Soucek had broken the deadlock.
Villa defender Tyrone Mings completed an excellent goalline clearance to deny Antonio shortly after the hour mark.
And Lingard rounded off his superb debut, latching on to Antonio’s pass to restore his side’s two-goal advantage two minutes after the hosts had pulled a goal back.
“I started tonight, scored two goals and got three points. I was smiling before the game and during, I just enjoy playing football,” Lingard told BT Sport.
“It has been a long time, I have come here to get game time and scored two goals but like I said, three points is the most important.”
Villa ponder what might have been
Three points would have taken Villa above West Ham into sixth place, and on another day Dean Smith’s side could have been celebrating their 11th league win of the season.
Forward Watkins struck the outside of the post with a curling effort after 26 minutes, with midfielder Ross Barkley dragging a shot wide when unmarked in the penalty area moments later.
But after falling behind, Villa seemed to lose their spark, with West Ham right-back Vladimir Coufal able to get the better of playmaker Jack Grealish for much of the game.
Grealish did manage to wriggle free and play a pinpoint pass to Watkins who struck the ball beyond Lukasz Fabianski to make it 2-1 in the 81st minute.
But poor defending allowed West Ham to grab a third and condemn Villa to a fifth defeat in seven games in all competitions.
‘We didn’t meet our standards’ – what they said
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith told BT Sport: “We bounced back after the Burnley defeat and have to do that now again.
“We are in a better place than last season and only two or three games where I came out and I was disappointed and this is one of them.
“We have set the standards after 19 games, you want to keep that going. Unfortunately tonight we didn’t.”
West Ham United
- 6Douglas LuizBooked at 70minsSubstituted forSansonat 80′minutes
- 21El GhaziSubstituted forTraoréat 45′minutes
- 20BarkleySubstituted forTrézéguetat 69′minutes
- 27El Mohamady
- 3CresswellBooked at 65mins
- 24FredericksSubstituted forFornalsat 84′minutes
- 11LingardSubstituted forBowenat 90+1′minutes
- 9BenrahmaSubstituted forJohnsonat 88′minutes
- Andy Madley
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 3.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 3.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Ezri Konsa Ngoyo.
Attempt blocked. Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Michail Antonio (West Ham United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Vladimir Coufal with a headed pass.
Foul by Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa).
Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Tomas Soucek (West Ham United).
Substitution, West Ham United. Jarrod Bowen replaces Jesse Lingard.
Bertrand Traoré (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jesse Lingard (West Ham United).
Offside, West Ham United. Aaron Cresswell tries a through ball, but Jesse Lingard is caught offside.
Offside, Aston Villa. Trézéguet tries a through ball, but Matthew Cash is caught offside.
Substitution, West Ham United. Ben Johnson replaces Saïd Benrahma.
Attempt missed. Saïd Benrahma (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Vladimir Coufal with a cross.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Craig Dawson.
Attempt blocked. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Substitution, West Ham United. Pablo Fornals replaces Ryan Fredericks.
Goal! Aston Villa 1, West Ham United 3. Jesse Lingard (West Ham United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Michail Antonio following a fast break.