Ward-Prowse freakshow wins it for Hammers

Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United – Premier League – Molineux – Report

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 West Ham United

James Ward-Prowse scored directly from a corner as West Ham United came from behind to record a 2-1 Premier League victory over depleted Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

The Hammers desperately needed to get back on track, with their hopes of booking a European berth floundering of late. Boss, David Moyes remained philosophical: “We know it’s going to be a tough end to the season, and that there are a lot of good clubs around us, but if you had given me this at the start of the season I would’ve been happy,” the Scotsman enthused.

“We’ve been in the top eight or nine for most of the season, and we’re going to do our best in every game to try and retain that. It’s been the same in Europe – we won our group and have worked our way to the quarter-finals – so we just need to keep going.

“We need to stay focused, take each game one at a time, and try to pick up results every time we go out onto the pitch. That’ll be the case at Wolves, for sure.”

Despite his impressive recent form, Moyes left Michail Antonio on the bench, sighting the player’s overloaded schedule behind his thinking. Meanwhile, Wolves boss, Gary O’Neil had no such luxuries, with Pedro Neto and Hee Chan Hwang sidelined through injury and Matheus Cunha named amongst the substitutes.

Nevertheless, it was the Wolves who came close to opening the scoring when Rayan Ait-Nouri fizzed over from twenty yards. Meanwhile, Tomas Soucek fluffed his lines after Jarrod Bowen had picked the pocket of Nelson Semedo and centred.

Ait-Nouri appeared to be the driving force behind the home side, who had started the brighter. Lukasz Fabianski was forced into saves to deny Pablo Sarabia and Tommy Doyle, then received a huge let-off after the former closed in with the Pole dawdling.

Doyle scuffed wide, but when that man Ait-Nouri was bundled over by Emerson, referee, Tony Harrington pointed to the penalty spot and Sarabia fired home via the foot of an upright.

Penalty! Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Rayan Ait-Nouri is bundled over by Emerson (Rob Newell – CameraSport)

Moyes replaced Czech duo Vladimir Coufal and Soucek with Antonio and Ben Johnson, the rest no doubt returning with a flea in their ear following a woeful first-half showing. However, the visitors’ problems deepened when leading marksman Bowen limped out of the action with what appeared to be a hip injury, to be replaced by Aaron Cresswell.

Mohammed Kudus fired over, while a Ward-Prowse free-kick was deflected behind, meanwhile, VAR somewhat harshly agreed with whistler Harrington in chalking off Emerson’s back post header after Semedo took a tumble.

But West Ham’s second-half improvement was tenfold. Emerson’s centre was handed by Kilman. Lucas Paqueta rolled home the second penalty of the afternoon to restore parity.

West Ham United’s Lucas Paqueta celebrates scoring from the penalty spot at Molineux (Rob Newell – CameraSport)

The momentum was now very much with West Ham. Johnson’s snap-shot was held by Jose Sa after Antonio’s cross had deflected into his path, while Matt Doherty’s last-gasp interception thwarted Kudus. Boubacar Traore warmed the palms of Fabianski as Wolves responded.

But the East Londoners forged ahead in bizarre circumstances. Ward-Prowse’s viciously inswinging corner eluded everyone, including Sa, before dropping inside the far post. On the balance of play, the goal had been coming. The travelling support roared their approval.

The finale saw VAR intervene to disallow Maximilian Kilman’s header. Those of a Wolves persuasion amongst the Molineux audience were left perplexed and somewhat disillusioned, although substitute Tawanda Chirewa appeared to be blocking Fabianski, clearly in an off-side position.

West Ham United now turn their attention to the UEFA Europa League where they face Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the BayArena on Thursday, April 11 (8pm).

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Sá, Semedo, Doherty (H.Bueno 87′), Ait-Nouri (Cunha 56′), Kilman (Capt), Toti, S.Bueno, M.Lemina (Traoré 75′), Gomes, Sarabia (Chiwone 75′), Doyle (Chirewa 87′) Subs not used: Bentley (GK), Dawson, N.Lemina, Fraser

Booked: Gomes (foul), Traoré (foul), Cunha (foul), Sarabia (foul)

Goals: Sarabia (penalty) 33′

West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal (Antonio 46′), Zouma (Capt), Mavropanos, Emerson, Álvarez, Souček (Johnson 46′), Ward-Prowse, Kudus, Paquetá, Bowen (Cresswell 53′) Subs not used: Anang (GK), Ogbonna, Aguerd, Phillips, Cornet, Ings

Booked: Emerson (foul), Paqueta (foul)

Goals: Paqueta (penalty) 73′, Ward-Prowse 84′

Referee: Tony Harrington

Assistants: Mark Scholes and Akil Howson

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR: Tim Robinson

Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk