Lookman's horror penalty at the death allows West Ham to scrape home at Fulham's expense
West Ham 1 Fulham 0
Tomas Soucek popped up to ram home a 90th minute winner for the Hammers in the battle of east v west.
But it needed a disastrous Panenka penalty attempt in injury time by Ademola Lookman to ensure that West Ham took all three points.
The Whites were looking good for a point until a chip from the right was headed back into danger by Whites defender Joachim Andersen and it fell perfectly for sub Said Benrahma – making his home debut for the Clarets – to set up Soucek.
Yet Fulham could, and should, have saved themselves after a VAR check correctly showed that Tom Cairney had been clipped by a clumsy Benrahma, with the game in its final seconds.
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s recent missed spot kick at Sheffield United meant he stepped down from the task of levelling it, but Lookman will wish that he had not.
The winger had played well again but seemed to be caught in two minds as he ran up for his kick. It was so feeble and so slow that Lukasz Fabianski had time to make a cup of tea before it reached him.
The Hammers started off like a fire-cracker in the first half but soon fizzled out as Fulham wrestled possession and largely stifled the home side’s ambitions.
The Whites did not make enough danger in the opposition penalty area to merit a win but their organisation and calm work with the ball was arguably worth a second away point of the season.
Yet it was not to be.
Alphonse Areola had to make three saves in the opening passages of play – first to deny Arthur Masuaku, who almost converted a square pass from Fablo Fornals.
From the rebound, Aaron Cresswell thundered a drive straight at the on-loan keeper, who threw his arms to deflect the ball away.
And moments later and it was Jarrod Bowen testing the PSG stopper’s alertness, while, from the resulting corner, Sebastian Haller rattled his crossbar with a header.
But that was as good as it got for the Hammers in that first half as Fulham found their sea legs. Cairney’s precision was the focal point of some tidy build-ups but it was the zest of Lookman which really threatened to unlock the door.
He tormented the home defence with his sharp turns and darts into the box, almost paving the way for Mitrovic – who perhaps came closest when nodding a Cairney cross just off target.
It was not a contest blessed with chances galore but the Whites could feel much happier with the way things were going, heading into the break, even if they had failed to land a shot on target.
The Hammers had to improve, and they did.
Cresswell crashed a free-kick against the top of the crossbar – Areola getting his fingertips to it – after Harrison Reed’s blind turn on the edge of the box to clear danger caught Tomas Soucek. Then a Bowen drive flew inches off target after ricocheting off Tosin Adarabioyo.
But it was still a game that remained in the balance. Lookman won a free-kick that he fired straight at Lukasz Fabianski and Bobby Reid also made space to fire low at the Hammers keeper.
It all pointed to stalemate, until the crazy finale which went very much the Hammers’ way.
West Ham: Fabianski – Balbuena, Ogbonna (Diop 63), Cresswell – Coufal, Soucek, Rice, Masuaku – Bowen (Lanzini 72), Haller, Fornals (Benrahma 72). Subs not used: Randolph, Yarmolenko, Snodgrass, Fredericks
Fulham: Areola – Aina, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Robinson – Auguissa (Cavaleiro 90), Reed – Decordova-Reid (Loftus-Cheek 83), Cairney, Lookman – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Hector, Kebano, Ream, Bryan