LONDON (AP) — Brighton added to West Ham manager Slaven Bilic’s troubles by easing to a 3-0 away win in the Premier League on Friday.
Two goals from Glenn Murray either side off Jose Izquierdo’s strike put Bilic’s future back in the spotlight.
West Ham joint-owner David Sullivan backed his manager before kickoff, saying Bilic would be given the opportunity to at least see out his contract until the end of the season.
But a shambolic performance left West Ham in 17th place and facing the possibility of dropping into the relegation zone by the end of the weekend.
“The board will do what they are going to do. It is their decision. We have been in this situation before and we got out,” Bilic told broadcaster Sky Sports. “As a manager you take the credit and as a manager you take the full responsibility. I don’t want to hide.”
Brighton, which had previously scored just once away in its first top-flight campaign since 1983, moved into 10th place in the standings.
German midfielder Pascal Gross had a hand in all six of Brighton’s previous goals this season, but nobody seemed to have told West Ham’s defenders.
He promptly made it seven in the 10th minute when he floated a free kick toward the head of Murray, who is in his second spell with the club after leaving in 2011 and rejoining last year.
The striker, who hit 23 goals last term to help Brighton to promotion, capitalized on the non-existent marking to nod into the corner and open his Premier League account.
West Ham briefly threatened to make a game of it but Brighton showed the hosts how to defend. Manuel Lanzini’s shot was deflected behind, Pedro Obiang’s drive was held by goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and defender Shane Duffy made a brave block to deny Javier Hernandez.
Having weathered that, Brighton doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time.
Murray should have scored when he broke through on goal, but goalkeeper Joe Hart beat away his effort. When the ball reached Izquierdo, he cut inside on his right foot and unleashed a fierce curler that Hart could not keep out.
West Ham’s misery was completed with 15 minutes to go. Pablo Zabaleta tripped Murray, who scored from the resulting penalty for his 79th league goal on his 170th appearance for Brighton.