West Ham fell to a 2-0 defeat to Wolves at the London Stadium on Saturday evening, with Raul Jimenez and Pedro Neto on target for the away side.
It was the away side who dictated the early proceedings, dominating possession, but the hosts should have taken the lead on a rare counter-attack when Pablo Fornals was sent through on goal. However, he wasted his shot rather than setting up Michail Antonio.
There were very few chances of note in the second period, with both sides struggling to break down their opponents. However, Wolves eventually found the breakthrough as substitute Adama Traore produced a wonderful cross which Jimenez powerfully connected with on 73 minutes.
The away side made it 2-0 in the final ten minutes through Pedro Neto, the Portuguese scoring a stunning volley from inside the area.
Key Talking Point
West Ham are in a relegation scrap, that much is clear. The break was a chance for the squad to regroup and gain confidence ahead of the run-in. But if an energetic and bright start was what David Moyes was hoping for, he didn't get it.
The Hammers began the clash lethargically, but as the game wore on Wolves found it increasingly challenging to break down a resolute Hammers defence. Closing off all the spaces, the away side struggled to really get in behind - until Traore exposed a gap, and it then all unravelled.
In attack, the lack of cutting edge will be a major cause for concern for Moyes. West Ham went into the break with zero shots on target, but they should have been 1-0 up. When Fornals was sent in behind, he could have simply passed to Antonio, but instead slashed at the ball.
In a game where chances were few and far between, it was a major missed opportunity. They looked brighter in attack after going a goal behind, but West Ham simply must improve offensively if they are to remain in the top flight.
Worrying times for Hammers fans.
Starting XI: Fabianski (5); Ngakia (7*), Rice (6), Diop (6), Cresswell (5); Noble (5), Soucek (6); Antonio (6), Fornals (4), Felipe Anderson (4); Bowen (5).
Substitutes: Lanzini (5), Yarmolenko (5), Fredericks (5).
Youngster Jeremy Ngakia is edging towards the West Ham exit door, with his contract due to expire at the end of June. But after his performance against Wolves, there will be a lot of fans wondering why the Hammers haven't tied the 19-year-old down to a new deal.
The right back was solid defensively, not letting Jonny get forward while also showing a strong reading of the game by getting back to help cover for his centre backs. Equally, whenever his side looked to break forward, Ngakia was seen bursting down the right in support.
Ngakia has a bright future ahead of him, whether it is at West Ham or somewhere else.
Ngakia remember the name.— σкєяєкє (@Lewanjoski) June 20, 2020
Ngakia.— Frank ?? (@ArmchairRegista) June 20, 2020
Underrated young talent.
Key Talking Point
Wolves wasted no time adjusting to their surroundings, instead dictating play early on. The players looked fit and focused, but they struggled to break down a stubborn West Ham defence.
Nuno's men are at their best when they're able to break at speed on the counter-attack, but when faced with a low block who invite pressure - as the Hammers did - Wolves lacked a player such as Traore to break the defensive line and get in behind.
Nuno responded in the second half by bringing on both Traore and Neto. The boss almost immediately reaped the rewards, with Traore setting up Jimenez. The wingers stretched West Ham's defence and forced the centre backs out of position much more frequently.
A huge three points for Wolves in their push for European football.
Solid start from Wolves. Started on the front foot. Pretty sure every Wolves player has a had a touch of the ball.— Portion Of Sport (@PortionOfSport_) June 20, 2020
Starting XI: Rui Patricio (6); Saiss (5), Coady (6), Boly (6); Doherty (6), Dendoncker (6), Neves (8*), Joao Moutinho (7), Jonny (6); Jimenez (7), Jota (6).
Substitutes: Pedro Neto (7), Traore (7), Vinagre (N/A), Gibbs-White (N/A).
Has Ruben Neves really not played any competitive football for three months? The Portuguese was pulling the strings in the centre of the park for Wolves, performing his defensive and offensive duties expertly.
Neves was pressing and forcing Hammers players into mistakes time and time again, dispossessing them before looking up and playing a stunning 40 yard cross-field ball. While rustiness was to be expected in the early stages of a team's first game back, Neves was as assured and authoritative in his work as ever.
Ruben Neves world class imo.— Ruan Aucamp (@ruanaucamp16) June 20, 2020
Really liking this start from Wolves, look extremely fit, have a really good energy about them, very good engines. Ruben Neves already looking sharp he's completed the most passes so far with 18.— Josh Bunting (@Buntingfootball) June 20, 2020
West Ham next travel to take on Tottenham on Tuesday in a London derby clash, before facing another London club in Chelsea the following Wednesday.
Wolves next host Bournemouth on Wednesday, before travelling to take on Aston Villa on Saturday.
Source : 90min