West Ham United 0-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
SECOND-HALF GOALS from Wolves duo Raul Jiménez and Pedro Neto condemned West Ham United to their seventeenth defeat of the season and drew the threat of relegation very much into the fore at an eerie London Stadium.
With West Ham separated from the bottom three by the narrowest of margins, boss, David Moyes, issued his charges with a battle cry in their belated hour of need.
“The players are well aware of how I see it,” the Scotsman explained.
“We want to be positive. We want to have this purpose in the last nine games. Ultimately, we have a massive, massive motivation to make sure we win the games in the way we want to.
“Ultimately it’s about what we will see on the pitch, but I can say that I have done everything that I can to give us a real purpose, to say ‘come on, this is what we need to do to get us out of the position we are in.”
Again, it can’t be emphasised enough just how much we need faces back in football grounds. Even in their darkest disposition – and there have been a few occasions in recent years – the humour, passion and downright doggedness of the West Ham crowd is a huge part of the matchday experience. We hope to see them back here safe, and above all, soon.
The home side certainly faced a tough task. Wolves had beaten the Hammers on each occasion since returning to the Premier League, and indeed, hadn’t lost in the capital since 2012. Coupled with points picked up by relegation rivals, Watford and Brighton, earlier in the day, West Ham’s cause had become all the more important as they glanced nervously over their shoulder.
West Ham found themselves on the back foot during the opening stages, with the usual suspects – Jiménez, Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves – pulling the strings for the fluent Black Country outfit. However, they did fashion the first clear-cut opening – Pablo Fornals blazing wildly off-target after being set clear by skipper, Mark Noble.
Tomas Soucek’s piledriver was deflected behind by Conor Coady following sterling work down the right from Jeremy Ngakia. Meanwhile, the power and pace of Michail Antonio troubled Wolves as tentatively, the Hammers began to emerge.
Lukasz Fabianski twice expertly dealt with angled attempts from Jota’s, while Jiménez was snibbed out by Ngakia as the scrappy toing and froing continued. Even without a near sixty-thousand judge and jury inquisitive and intense in the stands, you sensed an uneasy nervousness in the home sides’ toil.
Ngakia tested Rui Patricio’s resolve immediately after the restart. But the unwanted knack of misplacing a pace and generally looking a yard short had taken hold of both sides, who now seemed content to have what they held.
Fornals managed to get a tow in, diverting away from Jiménez who was shaping to shoot. But West Ham’s resilience was to be undone. Jiménez arrived unchallenged to nod home the easiest of opportunities – this after Adama Traoré’s delightful centre had picked him out. It was the Portuguese frontman’s fourteenth goal of the season – there was to be no way back for Moyes’s men.
Antonio bludgeoned his way through was too high after cutting in from the left. But within seconds it was all over. Traoré and Matt Doherty combined down the right – Pedro Neto supplying an emphatic finish at the far post to confirm the West Midlanders superiority.
In truth, it is difficult to see West Ham pulling this situation around. They return to Premier League action on Tuesday, June 23 when they face Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (8:15pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Jeremy Ngakia (Ryan Fredericks 81’), Declan Rice, Issa Diop, Aaron Creswell, Mark Noble Capt), Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals (Andriy Yarmolenko 81’), Felipe Anderson (Manuel Lanzini 67’), Jarrod Bowen Subs not used: Fabian Balbuena, Jack Wilshere, Albian Ajeti, Costa Silva, Darren Randolph (GK), Ben Johnson
Booked: Michail Antonio (foul)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patrício, Romain Saïss, Conor Coady (Capt), Willy Boly, Matt Doherty, Leander Dendoncker (Adama Traoré 64’), Ruben Neves, João Moutinho, Jonny Otto (Ruben Vinagre 90’), Raul Jiménez (Morgan Gibbs-White 90+1’), Diogo Jota (Pedro Neto 64’) Subs not used: Cavaco Jordão, Daniel Podence, John Ruddy (GK), Max Kilman, Oskar Buur
Booked: João Moutinho (foul)
Goals: Raul Jiménez 73’
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Adam Nunn and Lee Betts
Fourth official: Dean Whitestone
Reaction to follow…