MARKO ARNAUTOVIC returned to scoring ways to help give West Ham their second league win on the bounce.
The Austrian striker struck either side of half-time before Ryan Fredericks also got in on the act in what was otherwise a poor Premier League spectacle against Southampton.
AFP or licensors Mark Noble celebrates with Marko Arnautovic as West Ham run riot against Southampton
Reuters Arnautovic ended a 12-game barren spell in front of goal with a double against Southampton
With both safe and sound and gearing up for another top flight campaign next year, it was exhibition stuff in front of a far from jubilant Hammers crowd.
Manuel Pellegrini and Ralph Hassenhuttl made several changes each – most notably for the hosts Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson were out of the squad with illness.
While Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse were left on the bench for the visitors.
The lack of star quality showed early on, barring an oddly-enthusiastic Arnautovic, who notched his first goal for four months in the 16th minute.
A sloppy ball in midfield from Yan Valery gave Mark Noble all the time in the world to pick out the onrushing Arnie who slotted past Fraser Forster.
He was almost in again after Fabian Balbuena’s hoof from the back put him in one-on-one but for a heavy touch on the edge of the box.
The rest of the half is not worth commenting on – a real snooze-fest that encouraged Hassenhuttl to bring on Redmond at half time.
The switch briefly worked as the Saints winger forced Lukas Fabianski into a smart save as he tipped the volley over the bar.
Shane Long then had the men in yellow’s best chance of the game – brilliantly put through on goal after a one-two with Stuart Armstrong.
But Long decided instead to try and buy a penalty from the approaching Balbuena – a ploy referee Stuart Atwell did not fall for in the slightest.
The odd decision from Long cost Southampton, as West Ham then hit two in quick succession.
Arnautovic grabbed his second in the 69th minute – his first brace in the league since January 2 – with a fortunate header after Forster’s fumble from a yard out.
And then Fredericks wrapped it up three minutes later – a neat one-two with Jack Wilshere on the edge of the box allowed him to brush off Stephens and roll into the bottom corner.
There was also the welcome sight of Colombian international Carlos Sanchez coming off the bench to make his first appearance since September following injury.
AFP or licensors Arnautovic seized on a Forster error to nod home his second goal
Getty Images – Getty Ryan Fredericks made it three as he scored his first goal for West Ham