On his 300th league appearance, West Ham captain Mark Noble gave his side the lead from the penalty spot

West Ham climbed out of the relegation zone after striker Marko Arnautovic returned to haunt his troubled former club Stoke.

David Moyes’ improving Hammers celebrated their first away victory of the season but the pressure will build further on Potters boss Mark Hughes, who has now won just one of his last eight games.

On his 300th league appearance, West Ham captain Mark Noble gave his side the lead from the penalty spot before Arnautovic doubled their lead.

The Austria international should have had a hat-trick, hitting the woodwork twice in the second half before finally finishing with his right foot into the bottom corner after a deft exchange of passes with Manuel Lanzini.

Substitute Diafra Sakho compounded Stoke’s woes when he collected Lanzini’s through ball and slotted coolly past keeper Jack Butland.

Kick-off was delayed by an hour at the Bet365 Stadium because of a power outage, but many home fans left early as West Ham supporters sang “You’re getting sacked in the morning” to a grim-faced Hughes.

A hugely improved rearguard and Arnautovic’s persistence were key for the visitors, who beforehand had the top-flight’s worst defence along with Stoke.

They were thankful too that most of Stoke’s best chances fell to captain Ryan Shawcross, who could not get a string of headers on target.

‘Arnie’ silences Stoke fans’ boos

West Ham boss David Moyes said he was “annoyed” with Arnautovic’s missed chances at half-time but was pleased with the striker’s eventual contribution against his old club

They call Marko Arnautovic ‘Arnie’ at London Stadium, and the Austrian shares a steely determination with some of his Hollywood namesake’s biggest movie roles.

He was booed relentlessly by Stoke fans unable to forgive him for his £20m summer move to the capital.

But the 28-year-old, who was told he must work harder or risk being dropped when David Moyes arrived in November, used the barracking as motivation.

He braved the catcalls after he missed several strong chances, and hit the bar twice, and kept plugging away without letting his head drop.

When he was replaced on 79 minutes former boss Mark Hughes demanded he hurry off the pitch and a Stoke scarf was thrown at the striker from the stands.

Arnautovic’s response? He gave jubilant West Ham fans in the away end the Hammers’ crossed-arm ‘irons’ symbol and headed straight down the tunnel.

Just not enough spark for Stoke

Xherdan Shaqiri had more touches (78), shots (six) and key passes (four) than any Stoke team-mate. Centre-back Ryan Shawcross had four efforts but no forwards other than Shaqiri had more than two.

They are having a party at Stoke’s stadium tonight.

More than 500 partygoers will toast the festive season at a pre-booked corporate event, but the Potters fans among them will not feel much like celebrating.

This latest setback against fellow strugglers puts even more pressure on next Saturday’s similarly high-stake game against second-bottom West Brom and also on manager Mark Hughes.

Stoke chairman Peter Coates has denied Hughes is facing the sack