West Ham second best in five-goal thriller
PUBLISHED: 17:11 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 11 March 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers suffered at the hands of hat-trick hero Josh King despite two failed Cherries penalties
Bournemouth 3 West Ham United 2
The Hammers were cruelly left all at sea on the south coast where Josh King claimed a hat-trick to give the Cherries a late, late victory at the Vitality Stadium.
It was a bitter blow for Slaven Bilić’s boys, who had taken the lead, fallen behind and then levelled in an enthralling encounter that also saw Bournemouth squander two first-half penalties.
Returning from suspension, Michail Antonio had given the Hammers an early advantage, seconds after King had fired wide from the spot and, after the Bournemouth striker levelled on the half-hour, Benik Afobe then saw his penalty kick saved by Darren Randolph.
Just after the restart King put the hosts in front before substitute André Ayew looked to have snatched a deserved, late point for the visitors with seven minutes remaining but with the game just about to enter stoppage time, the Bournemouth striker claimed the match-ball to break Hammers hearts.
Defeat against table-topping Chelsea on Monday evening had left the Hammers in 11th spot – three places and six points ahead of Bournemouth – and following that loss, Bilić made just one change as he welcomed back Antonio in place of substitute Robert Snodgrass.
Certainly, West Ham quickly discovered that this was to be no leisurely day-trip to the seaside with the hosts mounting wave after wave of early pressure as Ryan Fraser skewed wide and Afobe nodded beyond the right post.
Then, on nine minutes, Sofiane Feghouli senselessly shoved Charlie Daniels to the ground in full view of referee Robert Madley, who immediately pointed to the spot to the dismay of Hammers skipper Mark Noble, who was booked for his futile protests.
But with only Darren Randolph to beat from 12 yards, King sent his penalty wide of both the ‘keeper’s left-hand glove and base of the right-hand upright to the joy of the 1,300 Hammers fans packed along the opposite touchline.
And Bournemouth’s luck just got worse as the Hammers duly took a lead of their own just seconds later, when Feghouli- atoning for that earlier rush of blood to the head – intercepted from Harry Arter before slotting the ball into the feet of Antonio.
Despite being heavily shackled, the Hammers top scorer cleverly spun Francis before stroking a low 15-yarder wide of Artur Boruc into the bottom right corner to claim his ninth goal of the campaign and leave the home fans cursing that penalty miss.
Indeed, Antonio might have grabbed a second shortly afterwards with a low 20-yarder that scorched just an inch or so wide, while Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini also tried their luck from range.
Last weekend, the ten-man Cherries had battled to a gutsy 1-1 draw against Manchester United and with Andrew Surman now suspended alongside Tyrone Mings - who collected a hotly-disputed retrospective five-game ban in midweek for his Zlat attack – Eddie Howe made two enforced changes as Dan Gosling and Francis came in for those two Bournemouth bad boys.
As the half wore on, the hosts desperately tried to grab a foothold on the shifting sands of this contest as Fraser and Steve Cook both forced Randolph into one-handed stops but, on the half-hour mark, the Hammers ‘keeper was left powerless when Afobe brought down Fraser’s chip from the right before nudging the ball onto King, who hooked it over José Fonte before lashing a ten-yard, half-volley inside the right post to level.
After Pedro Obiang was booked for tripping the escaping King, Bournemouth should have taken the lead on 36 minutes, when Fonte was harshly adjudged to have tripped Marc Pugh.
With King – clearly content with his equaliser - passing penalty responsibilities to Afobe, the Cherries striker lacked conviction with his spot-kick and Randolph guessed correctly to smother at the base of his right-hand post.
The Hammers might even have have made the hosts pay dearly for those two wasteful misses as Antonio broke clear only to run out of pitch before Feghouli also went close to restoring the visitors’ advantage but, in the end, an eventful first-half ended all-square.
Three minutes after the restart, though, the Cherries took the lead in controversial fashion, when Fraser’s free-kick to the edge of the Hammers box was nudged forward by the climbing Cherries duo of Cook and Afobe – and with the West Ham defence desperately appealing for handball by those two jumping jacks – the unmarked King fired home from eight yards.
Referee Madley consulted his assistant before confirming King’s tenth goal of the season and with the Hammers struggling to come to terms with that outcome, Fraser curled in a 20-yarder that the alert Randolph gathered from under his right-hand angle.
At the other end, Feghouli let fly from 25-yards but his wayward shot cleared both the bar and the stand on its way towards Bournemouth pier and that was the last action of the afternoon for the Algerian, who was replaced by Ayew, while Snodgrass came on for Noble in a double-switch.
Midway through the half, Antonio’s 18-yarder demanded a full-length save out of Boruc, while Pugh was booked for tripping the breaking Cheikhou Kouyaté and Afobe also saw yellow for sliding into Randolph.
Gosling was also cautioned for upending Antonio before Bilic played his own last card of the afternoon with the introduction of Sam Byram for Kouyaté.
And that third switch came up trumps with just seven minutes remaining, when Obiang’s inch-perfect, defence-splitting pass played in the over-lapping Byram, who cut back to fellow substitute Ayew and he equalised with a no-nonsense, eight-yard tap-in.
But in the end, it was a pair of seaside substitutes that would help Bournemouth snatch a late victory for, when Ayew failed to find the overlapping Byram, the newly-arrived Jack Wilshere broke away and, with the Hammers right-back helplessly stranded upfield, he played in Pugh.
The Cherries’ wide-boy sent in a low cross towards substitute Lys Mousset, whose shot cannoned into the path of King, who claimed that match-ball from eight yards to snatch all three points.
CHERRIES: Boruc, A. Smith, Francis, Daniels, Cook, Gosling, Arter, Fraser (Mousset 85), Pugh, King, Afobe (Wilshere 85). Unused subs: Allsop, Gradel, Smith, Ibe, Cargill.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Kouyaté (Byram 78), Reid, Fonte, Antonio, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble (Snodgrass 57), Feghouli (Ayew 57) Lanzini, Carroll. Unused subs: Adrián, Collins, Masuaku, Fernandes.
Booked: Noble (9), Obiang (33), Pugh (66), Afobe (72), Gosling (80), Cook (90+2).
Referee: Robert Madley.