Premier League
West Ham United 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Sunday, 27th September 2020
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham United comprehensively and comfortably thumped much-heralded Wolves this evening at the London Stadium, a 4-0 scoreline that never flattered them.

A 1-0 half-time lead looked too slender for the dominance the side had had, but it mattered little as the second half fight back never came, with West Ham just growing more and more dominant as time went on.

Alan Irvine took charge of what is now his second game as de facto West Ham manager, David Moyes at home isolating after his positive test earlier in the week.

Josh Cullen and Issa Diop remained missing too, the latter most notably as Fabian Balbuena deputised as part of the back three, the only change from the unlucky defeat to Arsenal the weekend previous.

The game started slowly, with a feeling out process that seemed to embolden the Hammers. Masuaku had the pace to control Traore, Jimenez was a shadow of himself from start to finish and the midfield pair of Rice and Soucek was just too smart and strong for Neves and Moutinho against them. With that pair subdued, the guile and nous of Wolves's team looked to have been completely removed.

Before 20 minutes could arrive, West Ham had got a lead, shattering the quiet opening.

Antonio was fouled in the middle of the park, but whilst players stopped, Fornals switched on. The Spaniard eyed the referee before spinning in a pass to Bowen out right.

That was clever, but what Bowen did from there was special.

His defender backed off and off until three surrounded Bowen just inside the area. The former Hull man knew only had eyes for goal, however, and quickly opened up his body before curling in a wonderful, low effort into the far corner and inside the side-netting.

Whilst it could be argued neither side had done much before then to take control of the game, that control never left West Ham from that moment onward. Soucek, Antonio and Bowen all had chances, the big midfielder so close from a header that never really dropped kindly as it bounced around the box.

But the real guilty party was Fornals, who missed a glorious chance to open up a truly dominant lead. Antonio rolled his defender once more, before hammering a shot straight at Patricio in the Wolves goal. He parried it centrally and it fell at a good height to Fornals, but the wonderfully ebullient midfielder leaned back and sliced over an easy chance just before half time.

It was to stay 1-0 as the half time whistle went, Wolves creating an opening just before the whistle blew that Fabianski saved well.

Those expecting a response from Wolves, some sort of punishment for West Ham not taking advantage of their ascendancy, were for once left with no need to fret. Even an early injury to Ryan Fredericks causing no change in the game, Johnson defending solidly for his half of football as West Ham chose to play a little more down the left side.

The confidence was clear, and after an early spell where Wolves looked to push West Ham back, the space started to really open up for the counter attack.

Twelve minutes after the restart, that counter attacking route to goal paid dividends.

A simple ball down the left channel was of course run onto by Antonio, the defender almost giving up as the forward beat him to it and then turned inside to decide what to do.

What he did was excellent, chipping a pass to the edge of the area to Fornals. He took a touch, made space and drove the ball at goal, beating the goalkeeper but finding the inside of the post. That momentary despair turned to immediate glee as Bowen was rewarded for following it in, the rebound falling right to him to knock into an empty net for his third West Ham goal.

Any competition in the game dissipated from there, with compliments to just how well the front three had played and how fantastic Masuaku was both on the ball and in defence. His dribbling was unlike any player on the books.

And his defensive work subdued the usually dangerous Traore, who was subbed with half an hour to go thanks to just how well Masuaku, ably supported by Fornals and Cresswell, had done in silencing the Spanish winger's threat.

With 25 minutes to go, the game really was sewn up.

After Bowen missed a chance for his hat trick in front of goal, the resulting corner found the run and the head of Tomas Soucek, whose flick at goal was diverted in by the arm of Raul Jimenez, replays showing the ball would have sailed wide.

It really did end the game. From there, West Ham eased off. Wolves looked disheartened, dispirited and easily dismissed.

Haller and Noble eventually made it on for cameos, two minutes remaining in normal time. The captain got hold of the ball and really slowed everything down, turning down forward passes on occasion to turn back towards goal and ensure the side were well positioned.

Just as it looked like 3-0 and a clean sheet, our eventual first home clean sheet since New Year's Day, was all that mattered, Masuaku brought out one more moment of brilliance. His quite exquisite cross from the left found Haller at the back post. The Frenchman peeled off his marker and headed down sublimely across Patricio and into the far corner.

The goal put a bow on a wonderful performance, one of the best ever by West Ham in this stadium. And with it, the side claimed their first three points of the season, a huge bonus in a continuing run of horrible games. The Arsenal performance might have deserved three points, but dismantling Wolves will have made other teams take note.


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Substitutes


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Match Facts

West Ham United: , , , , , , , , , , .

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: .

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Michail Antonio .