West Ham pick up first league win of the season as they thump Wolves
PUBLISHED: 21:27 27 September 2020 | UPDATED: 21:27 27 September 2020
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Premier League: West Ham United 4 Wolves 0
The Hammers finally got their Premier League campaign up and running with a fantastic four-goal victory that put three precious points on the board at London Stadium.
Jarrod Bowen struck twice before Tomáš Souček’s deflected header and substitute Sébastien Haller’s late effort cemented this win for absent David Moyes, who was forced to watch on television and command operations from his sofa after testing positive for COVID-19 in midweek.
Bowen buoyed the self-isolating Scot by giving his team a 16th-minute lead and, after seeing his side squander a sorry catalogue of first-half chances, the January capture from Hull City doubled the advantage as the hour-mark approached.
Soucek’s header then ricocheted off Raúl Jiménez midway through the second period before Haller stepped from the bench to nod home the late fourth goal that condemned Nuno Espírito Santo to his worst-ever defeat since taking charge as Wanderers Head Coach.
Despite progressing into the Carabao Cup fourth round with equally resounding victories over League One duo, Charlton Athletic and Hull City, the Hammers had suffered back-to-back defeats in their opening two Premier League fixtures against Newcastle United and Arsenal.
Another casualty of the pandemic – Issa Diop – was forced to sit out as Fabián Balbuena came in for the Frenchman and the Paraguayan’s call-up into the heart of the Hammers rear-guard was the only enforced change from the side that had controversially lost at Emirates Stadium last Saturday.
Indeed, on a chilly East End night, there was no sign of the result to come in the early stages and the 29-year-old soon found himself having to dig deep to match Pedro Neto stride-for-stride as the pacy Portuguese winger forced the first corner of the evening, with a dozen minutes on the clock.
Wolves had splashed the cash in midweek with the £27.5million capture of Nélson Semedo from Barcelona and the subsequently substituted Portuguese international went straight into the Wolves side alongside Rúben Vinagre, while Daniel Podence and Marçal (calf) missed out as Nuno made two changes from the team that had lost against Manchester City on Monday evening.
Arriving in the capital having won their last four matches against the Hammers without even conceding a solitary goal, Wolves had certainly started on the front foot and in confident mood but that all changed on the quarter-hour mark, when Michail Antonio was upended by Wily Boly on the halfway line as he attempted to collect Declan Rice’s pass.
With the ball barely coming to a halt, the quick-thinking Pablo Fornals released Bowen with the consequent free-kick and the West Ham number 20 menacingly raced at the back-tracking Romain Saïss before clinically curling a 15-yarder around both the Moroccan defender and the outstretched right glove of the diving Rui Patricio.
Having taken the lead, the Hammers might quickly have doubled it as Antonio forced the Wolves ‘keeper into a low save before Souček then ghosted into the area, where he met Arthur Masuaku’s low, left-wing cross but Patricio saved his point-blank shot.
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And with the visiting goal now leading a charmed life, Antonio’s attempted cutback looped off Conor Coady into the six-yard box, where Souček’s header was parried by Patricio, who would have been relieved to see the danger cleared as Bowen hooked the ball back into the mix.
Although Neto scuffed a long-ranger well wide at the other end, West Ham were pressing high and hard for a decisive second but when Ryan Fredericks whipped in a right-wing cross, Souček’s thumping header thudded into Coady and another chance went begging before Antonio dragged an angled shot beyond the far past.
Then, just before the break, West Ham really should have gone off at the interval with a two-goal cushion but when the ox-like Antonio carved out another opening for himself, Patricio beat out his stinging shot, only for Pablo Fornals to somehow send the loose ball over the unguarded goal and high into the dark, Stratford skies.
Right on half-time, Łukasz Fabiański saved Rúben Neves’ sizzling 20-yarder as Wolves signalled a false-warning of what might be to come in the second period and, just after the restart, there was more concern for the hosts when Fredericks pulled-up before being duly replaced by Ben Johnson.
But, equally, the sheer pace and power of Antonio was still causing Coady & Co problems in the heart of the Wolves rearguard. Indeed, the recently capped England international defender was booked for tripping Antonio as he tried to flee into the visitors’ box but Angelo Ogbonna nodded the resulting free-kick high over the top.
Now burdened with that yellow card, Coady could do nothing as Antonio went on a 57th-minute charge down the left before cutting the ball across field to the edge of the 18-yard line, where Fornals drilled a low shot onto the base of Patricio’s right-hand upright, ahead of Bowen racing in to drive the rebound across the line.
With the lead finally now doubled, Adama Traore – so often the thorn in the Hammers side in recent contests – was withdrawn as Fábio Silva stepped from the bench but within five minutes of the substitute’s arrival the match was all but over.
On 66 minutes, Aaron Cresswell whipped West Ham’s first corner into the near-post, where Souček sent a glancing header into the net via the chest of marker Jiménez to make it three.
And with stoppage being played out, Rice fed the overlapping Masuaku, whose pinpoint left-wing cross was met by the newly-arrived Haller, who outjumped Saïss to nod Hammers to that resounding four-goal victory.
HAMMERS: Fabiański, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Cresswell, Fredericks, (Johnson 48), Masuaku, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Noble 87), Fornals, Antonio (Haller 87). Unused subs: Randolph, Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Lanzini.
WOLVES: Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Semedo (Hoever 73), Vinagre, Traore (Silva 62), Moutinho (Vitinha 73), Neves, Neto, Jiménez. Unused subs: Ruddy, Dendoncker, Shabani, Kilman.
Booked: Coady (50)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
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