IT IS usually Ruby Murray that leaves West Ham fans a bit rough on Saturday mornings.
But today Glenn Murray is the reason Hammers followers woke up feeling sick.
The striker’s early header and second-half penalty sent newly-promoted Brighton on their way to their first away in the top flight for THIRTY-FOUR YEARS.
And Jose Izquierdo’s stunning strike just before the break left most home fans wishing they had swerved this clash and gone out for a Ruby Murray – Cockney rhyming slang for curry – instead.
The Hammers were as about as hot and spicy as a cold korma.
Such a comprehensive defeat will undoubtedly crank up the pressure on under-fire boss Slaven Bilic, whose team was booed off at the end of both halves.
The Croatian’s contract runs out at the end of the season and it is widely expected not to be renewed by the Hammers hierarchy.
But after this awful showing there could be calls for him to go sooner.
The Hammers might be saving a few quid in the compensation they would have to pay Bilic if they got rid of him. But this once-proud club surely cannot continue in this state of limbo for the rest of the campaign or there is a very real chance of them ending up back in the Championship.
Brighton’s survival prospects certainly look rosier after this.
Both teams arrived here locked on eight points just above the drop zone with almost identical records – but far different outlooks.
The doom and gloom enveloping the Hammers could not be more of a stark contrast to the mood at Brighton where the party spirit from winning promotion last season has carried over into their first ever campaign in the Premier League.
Maybe that is why West Ham played as though they had the worries of the world upon their shoulders, the Seagulls went about their business with a fearlessness and freedom found often in clubs unburdened by unrealistic expectations.
Brighton had managed just one goal and one point in their previous four away games.
And most of Chris Hughton’s squad were not even born when the Seagulls last won a top-flight away game. That was a 2-1 victory at Swansea’s old Vetch Field ground on March 1, 1983.
But Hughton’s current crop, to their credit, did not look overawed as they stepped out at the London Stadium.
In fact, they created the first chance of the night when a well-worked short corner routine ended disappointingly with unmarked Izquierdo firing way over the bar from the edge of the area.
Maybe the Colombian international was just testing his range for later.
West Ham certainly did not heed the warning of that training ground routine as they were caught out by another set-piece which resulted in the visitors taking the lead in the 10th minute.
The Hammers defence were static as Pascal Gross delivered a regulation inswinging free kick into the area where Murray, almost unchallenged, headed the ball past Joe Hart in the hosts’ goal.
It was the hitman’s first goal of the season, although the TV replays suggested he might have been attempting to glance the ball into the opposite corner of net.
Regardless, it was rank bad defending from the Hammers, who then at least stepped up their display as they went in search of an equaliser.
But each time Bilic’s boys fired a shot on goal it seemed to be blocked by a heroic piece of Albion defending.
First, Winston Reid’s effort was diverted away for a corner by Lewis Dunk’s superb challenge.
Then Manuel Lanzini’s shot at the far post flew over the bar after Gaeten Bong got a vital touch.
While Brighton had Dunk and Bong in their back four, the Hammers’ defence was more crash, bang, wallop – with emphasis very much on crash.
And after Javier Hernandez had fired a diagonal shot wide of Matthew Ryan’s goal, the Hammers had a let-off when Murray was put clear through on goal, only to see his shot smothered by Hart.
But the England keeper undid his good work when his failure to move his feet quick enough meant he was unable to prevent Izquierdo’s curling shot was finding the net, despite getting a paw to it.
It was his first goal of the season too and the £13.5million Albion paid Belgians Club Brugge for his services in the summer looks decent business.
West Ham were predictably booed off by their own fans at half time.
And the jeers returned when Hart denied Murray in another one-on-one in the 72nd minute.
But it got even worse for the Hammers when the frontman was tripped in the box by Pablo Zabaleta right under the nose of ref Martin Atkinson, who awarded a penalty.
Murray picked himself up to score the 74th minute spot kick that sparked a mass exodus from the home fans.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
FACTS, STATS, GOALS AND LOLS
- Tonight’s opener marks Glenn Murray’s first Premier League goal since December 2015. His last was also for a south coast club in London – a 1-0 Bournemouth win at Chelsea.
- Both of Murray’s braces in the Premier League have been against West Ham.
- The Hammers won both league games the last time these sides met, including a 6-0 thumping win at home during the 2011/12 Championship season.
- West Ham had won both of their previous home Premier League fixtures on a Friday by a 1-0 scoreline.
- The Hammers have now kept a clean sheet in five of their last eight Premier League games at the London Stadium.
- Brighton broke their transfer record for the third time this summer to sign Colombian ace Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge.
- Brighton’s Pascal Groß has created the same number of goalscoring opportunities as Kevin De Bruyne since August 2015.
- Only Crystal Palace have conceded more goals from crosses than West Ham this season.