West Ham snatch late victory over Fulham
- Credit: PA
Premier League: West Ham United 1 Fulham 0
With distant fireworks flying high into the Stratford night, there was an equally explosive finish at London Stadium, where the Hammers snatched a dramatic late, late 1-0 victory over the crestfallen Cottagers.
Despite hitting the woodwork either side of the interval, West Ham United looked set for a Saturday evening stalemate before Tomàš Sou?ek broke the deadlock two minutes into added time.
But staring defeat firmly in the face, Fulham still had a glorious opportunity to share the points, only for Ademola Lookman to carelessly chip his 96th-minute penalty straight into ?ukasz Fabia?ski’s gloves and hand David Moyes boys an incredibly reprieve with his recklessness.
The Hammers unbeaten four-match run was ended with a narrow defeat at Anfield last Saturday night and, despite that Liverpool loss, they still fielded an unchanged side to face a Fulham team, who had not won on any of their previous 10 league visits to the East End.
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After both teams steadfastly paid their Remembrance weekend respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle down the years, there was nothing silent, sombre or subdued about West Ham’s start to this footballing contest at murky, misty Stratford.
Kicking off in 15th spot – two places and four points above the visitors – the Hammers quickly won possession via Jarrod Bowen, who fed Pablo Fornals and when the Spaniard’s low, right-wing cross found Arthur Masuaku at the far post, Alphonse Areola made a point-blank parry before recovering to tip Aaron Cresswell’s follow-up over his crossbar.
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Fabián Balbuena also glanced wide, while Bowen then saw his vicious 20-yard volley skim off Aleksandar Mitrovi?’s scalp before being diverted away for another corner that Sébastien Haller met with a thumping header that rocked the crossbar.
Called up in midweek by Ivory Coast for the first time, Haller then looped another header into the gloves of Areola, who was certainly enduring a hectic, overworked start to his evening.
Three-times, Hammer of the Year, Parker, who saw his newly-promoted side record their first Premier League win of the season against Slaven Bili?’s West Bromwich Albion on Monday night had made just one enforced change as Harrison Reed replaced the injured Mario Lemina.
Having weathered that opening 10-minute tempest, the Cottagers gradually began to create chances of their own through talisman Mitrovic, who sent a couple of efforts narrowly wide before skipper Tom Cairney’s awkward low ball into the six-yard box only needed a stud.
With no sign of the lunacy that was to come, Lookman was also occupying his markers and, as the half-hour mark came and went, it was clear that Moyes men had lost their early momentum, so much so that the West Ham boss played ball-boy as he raced down the touchline to retrieve a stray pass in his quest to start a fresh attack but, alas, the manager’s enthusiasm could not prevent the first-half finishing goalless.
Just after the restart, Reed’s wild swing into the advancing Sou?ek’s ribcage resulted in a 20-yard free-kick that Cresswell curled over the defensive wall and onto the Cottagers’ crossbar.
Reed escaped a booking but referee Robert Jones – officiating only his second-ever Premier League match – soon produced a yellow card for Mitrovic who recklessly charged into Fabia?ski and Angelo Ogbonna.
It would prove to be a painful few minutes for Ogbonna, who was then booked for a high lunge on captain Cairney, before slumping to the turf and then hobbling away to be replaced by Issa Diop, shortly afterwards.
Certainly, those opening few minutes of total Claret & Blue dominance were now a dim and distant memory as the Hammers now found themselves mired in a crowded midfield battle.
Indeed, Fulham were now looking the most dangerous as Lookman’s tricky 20-yard free-kick was well read by Fabia?ski, who then got down to save a low, angled 15-yarder from Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
That was the cue for Moyes to make a double-switch with a quarter-hour remaining as Bowen and Fornals were replaced by Manuel Lanzini and Saïd Benrahma, who might well have snatched a late victory in normal time following a tricky run along the by-line but Areola twice saved the substitute’s tightly-angled shot and his subsequent follow-up.
It looked like being the Hammers last chance but two minutes into added time the ball again fell to Brentford’s on-loan Algerian 12 yards out and, this time, he squared to Sou?ek, who drilled a low shot past both the leaping Haller and Areola to finally break the deadlock.
Incredibly, there was still more drama to come as Fulham – Areola and all – packed the Hammers area for one last advance deep into West Ham territory and, with Cairney weaving and waltzing through a possé of home defenders, the Fulham skipper hit the deck having fallen over Benrahma’s outstretched foot.
Initially waving away the visitors’ appeals, referee Jones was then steered to his pitch-side monitor by Video Assistant Referee, Andre Marriner and after reviewing the challenge, he duly changed his mind and pointed to the spot.
Charged with the responsibility of taking the final kick of the night, Lookman placed the ball on the turf before inexplicably attempting a Panenka-like penalty that he merely scooped into Fabia?ski’s gloves to leave the Hammers with all three points and himself with his head forlornly in his hands.
West Ham United: Fabia?ski, Balbuena, Ogbonna (Diop 63) Cresswell, Coufal, Masuaku, Rice, Sou?ek, Fornals (Benrahma 74), Bowen (Lanzini 74), Haller.
Unused subs: Randolph, Yarmolenko, Snodgrass, Fredericks.
Fulham: Areola, Aina, Robinson, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Zamba-Anguissa (Cavaleiro 90+3), Reed, De Cordova-Reid (Loftus-Cheek 82), Cairney, Lookman, Mitrovic?.
Unused subs: Rodák, Hector, Kebano, Ream, Bryan.
Booked: Mitrovi? (55), Ogbonna (56), Loftus-Cheek (88), Diop (90+5).
Referee: Robert Jones.