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Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-3 West Ham United
West Ham United survived a spirited Wolves fightback to take the points and move into fourth place in the Premier League following a five-goal thriller at Molineux.
The Hammers were dealt a blow with Declan Rice returning from international duty with a lateral knee ligament injury. The player missing his first Premier League game since May 2019 – while Arthur Masuaku returned to the starting eleven following a troublesome knee injury that had sidelined the DR Congo defender since late last year.
Nevertheless, with Chelsea and Tottenham faltering, a top-four spot was at stake for the East Londoners – Willian José fired wide for the hosts, while a combination of Rui Patricio and an upright denied Michail Antonio as the sides traded early blows.
But with their next foray forward West Ham took the lead. Jesse Lingard skipped through the Wolves backline before providing a neat left-footed finish.
Lingard again tested Patricio. But before the quarter of an hour mark, it was two. This time, Pablo Fornals swept across Patricio and into the corner of the net – Arthur Masuaku the provider – Aaron Cresswell and Lingard pivotal in the raid.
Shell shocked Wolves were at sixes and sevens – Antonio bludgeoned his way through before blasting into the side-netting – the powerful frontman picking up a knock on the way and subsequently replaced by Jarrod Bowen
Adama Traore – so often the Hammers chief tormentor -fired into Lucas Fabianski’s midriff, and within seconds the play switched rapidly to the other end – Bowen thundering, left-footed, beyond Patricio to extend West Ham’s lead further.
Pedro Neto somehow missed a gaping goal after Fabianski had pushed out a goalbound effort from Willian José. But the home side continued to probe – Traore centred – Leander Dendoncker powerfully headed past Fabianski to reduce the arrears two minutes before the break.
Bowen headed Cresswell’s centre off-target, while Tomas Soucek was adjudged to have handled, his effort chalked off as the game continued at a frantic pace after the restart.
Fabianski dealt with Neto’s stinging strike, while substitute Fabio Silva fired over. But Silva was not to be denied. When presented with another opportunity minutes later, the Portuguese fizzed low into the corner to provide a grandstand finish.
West Ham was wobbling. Dendoncker and Neto blasted over when presented with opportunities to level the contest – Wolves asking the questions while the Hammers earlier attacking intent all but extinguished.
The visitors were forced to defend deeply in the final stages.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, April 11 when Leicester City visit the London Stadium (2:05pm).
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Nelson Semedo, Conor Coady (Capt), Romain Saïss, Rayan Aït-Nouri (Ki-Jana Hoever 90’), Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Adama Traoré, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence (Fabio Silva 46’), Willian José (Vitinha 72’) Subs not used: John Ruddy (GK), Morgan Gibbs-White, Maximilian Kilman, Owen Otasowie, Christian Marques, Lewis Richards, Vitinha
Booked: Ruben Neves (foul)
Goals: Leander Dendoncker 43’, Fabio Silva 69’
West Ham United: Łukasz Fabiański, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Aaron Cresswell, Vladimir Coufal, Mark Noble (Capt), Tomáš Souček, Arthur Masuaku (Ben Johnson 69’), Pablo Fornals (Said Benrahma 78’), Jesse Lingard, Michail Antonio (Jarrod Bowen 36’) Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Nathan Trott (GK), Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena, Frederik Alves, Ademipo Odubeko
Booked: Craig Dawson (foul), Issa Diop (Foul), Jesse Lingard (time-wasting)
Goals: Jesse Lingard 6’, Pablo Fornals 14’, Jarrod Bowen 38’
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Dan Cook
Fourth Official: Robert Jones
VAR: David Coote
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis