West Ham surrender lead as Hull City grab all three points
PUBLISHED: 17:10 01 April 2017
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The Hammers slumped in a poor second-half display to slip back into the relegation picture
Hull City 2 West Ham United 1
There was yet more Hammers heartbreak at the KCOM Stadium, where Slaven Bilić’s injury-hit side surrendered a first-half lead to give Hull City a valuable victory in their quest to avoid the dreaded drop.
Stand-in skipper Andy Carroll, who played a captain’s innings during the opening period, gave West Ham an 18th-minute lead with his seventh goal of the season and after a five-match, win-less streak that had left the Hammers board insisting that the club’s next three games were ‘vital’ the tea would certainly have tasted sweeter in the visitors’ dressing room at the break.
But the Tigers roared back after the interval and with Andy Robertson levelling early in the second half, Andrea Ranocchia headed home the winner five minutes from the final whistle to leave the beleaguered Bilić wondering how West Ham had failed to get anything out of this contest.
With his side kicking off in 12th-spot, nine points and six places above the relegation-threatened hosts, the Hammers boss had made a trio of unwelcome, enforced changes to the team that had lost to Leicester City just before the international break as James Collins, Sofiane Feghouli and heavily-jeered, former Tiger Robert Snodgrass came in for Michail Antonio (hamstring) plus long-term absentees Pedro Obiang (ankle) and Winston Reid (thigh).
Certainly, the reshuffled Hammers gave an early indication of their commitment to Bilić, when José Fonte picked up a lightning-quick, first minute booking for ploughing through Abel Hernández.
And after the Portuguese defender then slid a dangerous low cross into his own side-netting at the expense of a corner, the unmarked Snodgrass had a great opportunity to break the deadlock but he could only head Feghouli’s right-wing cross straight into the clutches of Eldin Jakupović.
But on 18 minutes, Carroll showed the Scot how it should be done, when Aaron Cresswell sent over a looping left-flank centre that eluded Curtis Davies and, after chesting down, the Hammers captain expertly steered a low, eight-yarder beyond the outstretched right glove of the helplessly exposed Jakupović.
Hull may have take a frightening four-goal hammering at Everton last time out but Marco Silva’s team had come into this match unbeaten in their last seven home games and, following that defeat at Goodison Park, the Tigers boss was without Tom Huddlestone (suspended) and Omar Elabdellaoui as Oumar Niasse and Ahmed Elmohamady returned to the fold.
Finding themselves behind, City tried to get back on level terms and, when Fonte’s underhit backpass sold Darren Randolph short, the Hammers keeper took no prisoners as he slid through both Lazar Marković and Hernández to clear on the 18-yard line.
On the half-hour, Manuel Lanzini almost doubled West Ham’s lead, when he let fly with a low 25-yarder but Jakupović tipped the effort aside to give the visitors their first corner of the afternoon and, just before the break, the Hull ‘keeper plucked the ball off Feghouli’s bald scalp, to restrict the confident, comfortable Hammers to just a one-goal advantage at the interval.
Silva introduced Kamil Grosicki for Davies at the restart and the Polish substitute took just eight minutes to make his presence felt, when he fed the ball into the overlapping Robertson, who simply charged through the heart of the Hammers defence before opening his account for the season with a crisp, low 12-yarder that gave Randolph no chance.
In reply, Carroll nodded another Cresswell cross into Jakupović’s arms but, having just levelled, Hull were certainly in the ascendancy and, when Sam Byram sliced a clearance straight to Niasse, the Senegalese international rocked Randolph’s left-hand post with a scorching 10-yarder, before that man Grosicki fired the rebound behind.
After Carroll was booked for sliding through Hernández, Edimilson Fernandes replaced Snodgrass, who departed to yet more boos before the hobbling Cresswell made way for Arthur Masuaku, who soon saw Alfred N’Diaye booked for tugging him back.
With ten minutes remaining, the Tigers made a double-switch of their own, when N’Diaye and Hernández retired in place of Shaun Maloney and Markus Henriksen, who wasted no time sending an angled volley across the face of goal.
But just as both sides looked about to be settling for a point, the Tigers reared up for one last time and, when Grosicki sent over a corner with just five minutes left, Ranocchia roared in at the near post to get in front of both Cheikhou Kouyaté and Byram and glance his match-winning header into the net and leave the Hammers looking high in the Hull skies in total despair.
TIGERS: Jakupović, Robertson, Elmohamady, Maguire, Davies (Grosicki h/t), Clucas, Ranocchia, N’Diaye (Maloney 79), Marković, Niasse, Hernández (Henriksen 79). Unused subs: Marshall, Meyler, Diomande, Dawson.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Byram, Cresswell (Masuaku 67), Collins, Fonte, Kouyaté (Calleri 90+2), Snodgrass (Fernandes 65), Feghouli, Ayew, Lanzini, Carroll. Unused subs: Adrián, Nordtveit, Noble, Fletcher.
Booked: Fonte (1), Carroll (63), N’Diaye (73)
Referee: Mike Jones