Friday 20 April 2018

Cherries break duck in style

West Ham United 3-4 Bournemouth

West Ham United's on-loan right back Carl Jenkinson sees red for bringing down former Leeds United winger Max Gradel in the box
West Ham United's on-loan right back Carl Jenkinson sees red for bringing down former Leeds United winger Max Gradel in the box
AFC Bournemouth's Callum Wilson scored a hat-trick
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic apologised after the game for his side's performance
Modibo Maiga celebrates after scoring West Ham's third, but it was merely a consolation goal

Jacob Steinberg

They have been winning friends and admiring glances, but the time had come for Bournemouth to prove that they belong at this level and they wanted something more substantial to show for their unstinting efforts than generous pats on the head from neutrals and goodwill that flew their way after narrow defeats in their first two matches.

Eddie Howe's side did not disappoint at Upton Park and deepened the uncertainty that surrounds West Ham by scoring their first goals of the season and earning their maiden victory in the top flight.

Bournemouth arrived in east London without a goal to their name but it was not long before they reminded Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph of the torture they subjected him to when he was at Birmingham City. In Randolph's defence, there was nothing he could have done to prevent Bournemouth from breaking their Premier League duck in the 11th minute. West Ham were always in trouble once Simon Francis had won his tussle with Aaron Cresswell on the right and Callum Wilson's sharp movement across Winston Reid allowed him to batter the right-back's cutback past Randolph at the near post, sparking wild Bournemouth celebrations.

West Ham were stunned. There were jeers when Angelo Ogbonna was replaced but the damage was already severe by that time. Cresswell was having a nightmare and was culpable when Bournemouth scored again after 28 minutes, playing a blind pass straight to Wilson.

West Ham were a shambles, a mess in defence, confused in midfield and brittle in attack, where Kevin Nolan huffed and puffed alongside the isolated Diafra Sakho because Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia and Mauro Zárate are injured.

Carl Jenkinson was tormented by Max Gradel and was sent off for pulling the winger back and conceding the penalty that allowed Wilson to complete his hat-trick in the 79th minute.

Bournemouth could have been out of sight by the time the teams disappeared down the tunnel; instead West Ham still had hope and Bilic used the interval to repair the cracks in the system by bringing on Matt Jarvis for Nolan.

Momentum swung West Ham's way when Joshua King tripped Noble in the area after 48 minutes. Noble sent Artur Boruc the wrong way with his penalty and belief fizzed through Bilic's players. West Ham glimpsed Bournemouth's inexperience and the equaliser arrived five minutes later, Cheikhou Kouyate smashing the rebound into the roof of the net after Boruc had palmed out Sakho's shot.

Back the Cherries came, brimming with energy. Marc Pugh shot powerfully from the edge of the area and Randolph pushed his effort away, but West Ham did not heed the warning. They wasted opportunities to clear the ball in the 66th minute, allowing Gradel to find Pugh in space on the left, and the winger sent Jenkinson skidding off into the distance with a superb piece of skill that allowed him to bend a sumptuous curler past Randolph.

Modibo Maiga pulled a goal back for West Ham shortly after Wilson made it 4-2, but Bournemouth are out of the blocks.

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