West Ham battle but Wolves too strong at Molineux
PUBLISHED: 21:45 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 21:45 04 December 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers concede a goal in each half as Wolves take the points
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 West Ham United 0
The euphoria of Saturday's victory in West London evaporated on a cold Wednesday night in the West Midlands, where the Hammers found themselves savaged by the hungry Wolves.
Four days on from their win at Chelsea, West Ham's effort and endeavour earned them nothing on a night when in-form Wanderers showed them the way to goal.
Leander Dendoncker's second strike of the season, midway through the first-half, set the hosts on the way to victory before late-substitute Patrick Cutrone secured the points with just four minutes remaining.
The Hammers hard-fought victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday had ended an eight-game, win-less run for under pressure Manuel Pellegrini and, after seeing his side climb into 13th-place with that wonderful win, the Chilean made just one change as he rested the still-recovering Michail Antonio and recalled Sébastien Haller as his lone striker.
That meant that after keeping a clean sheet on his Premier League debut to become the second-oldest goalie to achieve the feat - ironically behind ex-Hammer Bernard Lama - 33-year-old David Martin kept the gloves on a freezing night in Wolverhampton.
And despite the best efforts of live-wire Adama Traoré down the right flank, the West Ham 'keeper was barely troubled during an opening 20 minutes in which Pellegrini's visitors forced a couple corners and battled toe-to-toe in an ever-congested midfield.
Kicking-off in seventh-spot - six places and four points above the Hammers - Wolves had lost just once in their last 15 matches in all competitions and, following their 1-1 draw with Sheffield United on Sunday, Nuno Espírito Santo made just one change, too, as Romain Saïss replaced substitute - former Maidennhead United defender and Alan Devonshire protegé - Max Kilman.
Midway through the half, however, the hosts forced a couple of corners of their own and, when João Moutinho floated over a left-wing flag-kick, Dendoncker lost Ryan Fredericks to prod his side ahead from six yards.
In reply, Declan Rice met a third corner of the evening from the busy and industrious Robert Snodgrass' with a powerful header that Rui Patricio held on his line as the visitors went in search of a leveller.
Indeed, after Diogo Jota was booked for slaying Snodgrass as he prepared to escape once more, Pablo Fornals thought he had equalised with a beautifully-curled 18-yarder but the luminous figure of Patricio flew through the Molineux mist to divert the goal-bound effort over his left-hand angle.
Ten minutes before the break, it was Martin's turn to show what he can do with the gloves, when he beat out Jota's stinging 20-yarder, while Moutinho posed far less threat when he dragged his low 25-yarder well wide and, while the Hammers trailed to that Dendoncker opener, they were still very much involved in this encounter as the teams departed at the break.
Ten minutes into the second period, though, Dendoncker almost doubled his evening's tally when he rose highest to meet a hanging cross from Raúl Jiménez but his header was too high before the marauding Mexican created another great opening for the supporting Jonny, who was foiled by the lone-figure of Martin.
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Declan Rice offered up a little resistance by way of a 25-yarder that flew wide before Snodgrass had a fantastic opportunity to bag that equaliser, when Fornals sent him clear with a perfectly lofted ball over the Wanderers defence.
Sadly, Snodgrass found both his first and second touches deserting him and Patricio was able to race from his line and smother as the Hammers No. 11 tried to slide home at the third attempt and, after receiving treatment, the Scotsman was replaced by Andriy Yarmolenko for the final half-hour. It would prove to be an expensive fluffing of his lines.
Saïss nodded just inches wide following another Moutinho corner before Jiménez fired across the face of goal, while at the other end, Haller's tightly-angled chip cleared the far post.
Moutinho also found himself skidding across the frosty turf as Rice was booked for the illegal challenge, before Nathan Holland replaced skipper Mark Noble and Jota stood down for Pedro Neto, who both arrived to see Martin reassuringly beat away another Jiménez shot.
With West Ham pressing for parity, Wolves looked just one free-flowing passing move from breaching East End defences and Aaron Cresswell became the second Hammer to be cautioned when he took out the fleeing Traoré as he prepared to put on the after-burners.
Albian Ajeti stepped from the bench to replace the disappointing Haller for the final ten minutes, while this time Saturday's match-winner at the Bridge - Cresswell - could only drag his 20-yarder wide, before the grateful Saïss saw Patricio hold his mis-cued clearance under the crossbar.
Those two late efforts would be the closest that West Ham would get to claiming anything for, with just four minutes left, Jonny's bulldozing run forward climaxed with Neto holding off Angelo Ogbonna and laying the ball into the path of supporting substitute Cutrone, who marked his recent arrival with a low 18-yarder that crept inside Martin's right-hand post to confirm all three points for Wanderers.
WOLVES: Patricio, Saïss, Coady, Dendoncker, Doherty, Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Traoré (Bennett 88), Jota (Neto 71), Jiménez (Cutrone 84). Unused subs: Ruddy, Vinagre, Kilman, Ashley-Seal.
HAMMERS: Martin, Fredericks, Cresswell, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Rice, Noble (Holland 71), Fornals, Snodgrass (Yarmolenko 62), Anderson, Haller (Ajeti 80). Unused subs: Roberto, Zabaleta, Sánchez, Masuaku,
Booked: Jota (29), Rice (67), Cresswell (78).
Referee: Andre Marriner