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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Raul Jimenez's composed finish punishes lazy West Ham as Wolves win 1-0


West Ham’s unbeaten away record came to an unceremonious end following a disheartening performance which saw the Hammers lose 1-0 against Wolverhampton at Molineux Stadium.


Raul Jimenez’s composed first-time effort into the bottom corner after 58 minutes was the goal that separated the two sides who were clearly not on the same page.


If on one side West Ham were passive, slow and pedestrian, Wolves were the complete opposite and, barring two wasted chances by Jarrod Bowen either side of half-time, the Hammers never found their mojo in this game. It almost felt as if the international break and Angelo Ogbonna’s season-ending injury diagnosis had affected them.


With Manchester United slipping to a disastrous 4-1 defeat at Watford and Liverpool yet to play, West Ham remain third. For now.


Things got off to a good start for West Ham and Bowen had an early chance to get his side off the mark but he sent a header wide of the post after rising unchallenged to meet Aaron Cresswell’s tailor-made cross.


After 28 minutes of technical but sedate action, the game burst into life for Wolves and Nelson Semedo drove a first-time shot wide after West Ham’s rear-guard failed to deal with a low cross in from the left.


Wolves were moving through the gears and stepped up their intensity as West Ham had another let-off when Hwang Hee-Chan’s low cross clearly hit Ben Johnson’s arm. But the home side’s penalty appeal was unfathomably turned down, despite clear evidence.


The technically gifted Joao Moutinho then saw his dipping shot tipped over by Fabianski and minutes later Rayan Ait-Nouri flashed a glancing header wide following a corner.


West Ham were the big winners of the first period and could deem themselves fortunate to be still on level terms.


On the stroke of half-time Kurt Zouma had a headed goal chalked off for a shove on Roman Saiss. If it had stood it would have been unfair for second-best West Ham who had been largely outclassed, outfought and outplayed until then.


After the restart Wolves picked up where they left off and Daniel Podence got a low effort away to draw a competent save from Lukasz Fabianski. Ruben Neves also had a crack from distance but his first-time volley flew over the crossbar.


Despite Wolves’ relentless pressure and high-pressing, West Ham just about hung in as Fabianski bailed his static defence out again when he produced an excellent one-handed save from Podence’s effort to deflect it over the crossbar.

But their inability to find the back of the net didn’t deflate Bruno Lage’s courageous men, who kept knocking and were finally rewarded for their dominance in the 59h minute.


Podence, his side’s liveliest player, cut the ball back for Jimenez to drill a low effort beyond West Ham’s Polish keeper.


That’s what West Ham needed to finally awake from their slumber. Or that’s what their numerous present fans at the Molineux hoped for.


Their plan of giving up possession and hoping to hit the visitors on the break didn’t work out and now they had to take matters into their own hands. And at one point it looked like West Ham were going to come away with a point they did not merit.


Antonio, who was reportedly rushed back from Jamaica on a £100,000 private jet by co-chairman David Sullivan for this game tried his hardest to make it money well spent.


And in the 70th minute he nearly set up Bowen’s equaliser when he laid the ball off to the former Hull City winger. But the 24-year old drove his shot over after brilliantly cutting inside and resisting the challenges of two Wolves defenders.


Wolves defender Maximilian Kilman had the chance to put daylight between the two sides and steady Bruno Lages’ nerves with the Portuguese consistently leaving his technical area. But the young Englishman mishit his volley.


Devoid of ideas and lacking sharpness, West Ham never got in their stride and it was the first time all season that David Moyes’ men were put in their place from a tactical, technical and physical point of view.


But the East Londoners have moved bigger mountains and overcome greater hurdles since the Scot took over on the penultimate day of 2019. Today was a bump in the road and they will be back on track before long.




Line-ups


Wolverhampton


1 Jose Sa- 3 Rayan Ait-Nouri- 8 Ruben Neves- 9 Raul Jimenez- 10 Daniel Podence- 16 Conor Coady- 22 Nelson Semedo- 23 Maximilian Kilman-26 Hwang Hee-Chan- 27 Romain Saiss- 28 Joao Moutinho


Substitutes


21 John Ruddy- 2 Ki-Jana Hoever- 5 Marcal- 11 Francisco Trincao- 15 Willy Boly- 17 Fabio Silva- 32 Leander Dendoncker- 37 Adama Traore- 39 Luke Cundle



West Ham


1 Lukasz Fabianski- 3 Aaron Cresswell- 4 Kurt Zouma- 8 Pablo Fornals- 9 Michail Antonio- 15 Craig Dawson- 20 Jarrod Bowen- 22 Said Benrahma – 28 Tomas Soucek- 31 Ben Johnson-41 Declan Rice


Substitutes


13 Alphonse Areola- 5 Vladimir Coufal- 7 Andriy Yarmolenko- 10 Manuel Lanzini- 11 Nikola Vlasic- 16 Mark Noble- 23 Issa Diop- 26 Arthur Masuaku- 33 Alex Kral








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