Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United’s losing run would continue to rage on, on Saturday afternoon when they were cruelly defeated in the dying seconds by Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League at London Stadium, today, we look back at five Massive Moments from the keenly-contested affair.
Patricio’s Early Stop
The fast-paced encounter was barely four minutes old when our first Massive moment reared its head at London Stadium, a chance that could have changed the complexion of the whole afternoon for the hosts.
Club-record signing Felipe Anderson picked up the ball outside of the box and drive at the Wolves defence, eventually working a shooting opportunity and looking to test out Portuguese International Rui Patricio.
The Brazilian opened fire and the 2016 European champion dived to his left, pushing the ball out right into the path of home captain Marko Arnautovic to square across the face of goal.
Unfortunately, no player in Claret & Blue had made the gamble of running to near post and tapping into an empty net and the chance went begging, however, there could be no denying the quality of the stop from Patricio.
Had this opening been converted at either attempt, the Hammers would have taken their third lead of the season and arguably, been on the front-foot, who knows whether this would have led to them getting off the mark? Although, there’s a decent chance.
Fabianski On Fine Form
Our next Massive Moment is not just one moment but the overall contribution of the man between the sticks in the home goal, Lukasz Fabianski, his saves forming many Massive moments.
These came either side of the break, but more so in the second period, an impressive stop from a powerful Ryan Bennett strike that was roof-of-the-net-bound being his only work of note before half-time, he would also save from the full-back in the second half.
But, it would be an entirely different story in the second 45, with one save standing out from the rest, one that kept the score at 0-0 and ultimately, led to his team coming within seconds of holding out for a first point under Pellegrini.
The away team broke quickly on West Ham in the 73rd-minute, Raul Jimenez’s cross falling to substitute Leo Bonatini in the middle of his area, the Pole racing off his line to apprehend the Portuguese and put his body in the way.
The Irons defenders did the rest in clearing the ball and although he would end up on the losing team, the magnificent stop epitomised Fabianski’s time in East London so far, his contribution cannot be denied, a major early-season damage-limiter for the East Londoners, the new signing.
In every match that ends up being won by one of the two teams, there comes a turning point, however small or big and that was certainly the case at the former London Olympic Stadium two days ago.
This time around, it came in the form of a masterful substitution by away manager Santo, bringing on summer signing Adama Traore, who was captured from Middlesbrough in as multi-million-pound move.
Traore, once linked with a move to West Ham, took the pace of Diogo Jota on 62 minutes and immediately made an impact on the game, at a time where the hosts were enjoying the better of play.
The Barcelona Academy graduate’s pace outmatched the capabilities of any home-sided defender and Aaron Cresswell was set for a tricky closing half-an-hour dealing with his electric pace and skill.
As they say “the rest is history” as Traore’s presence made a match-winning impact for the Wanderers, which we will get onto later, the genius tactical alteration, a Massive Moment, almost straight away shifting the balance of proceedings to the visiting Xl.
Patricio Denies Arnautovic And West Ham The Win
A common theme is emerging from this analysis of the Massive Moments from the defeat that confirmed the Irons worst start to a league campaign in 92 seasons, and that is the valuable interventions of the goalkeepers.
But one could easily argue that none of them were quote as important as Patricio putting his body and possibly, his eyesight on the line to save his new Midlands team, on the 81-minute mark.
Arnautovic, a livewire all afternoon as is custom, had already spurned half-opportunities, however, was about to miss his biggest, having done all the hard work and been unable to finish it off.
He picked up the ball as the Hammers broke, his pace and power too much for the defence as he raced past last man and skipper Conor Coady before pulling the trigger, Patricio getting his face and more specifically, his eye socket in the way to deflect the ball out.
The shot-stopper went down and received treatment on the blow for a good few minutes after the safe of play had ended and no one was questioning his bravery, at this late stage in the encounter, had this goal gone in, it would have been hard to see an eventuality that didn’t include the three points staying in the capital.
Wolves Steal Victory At The Death
For the hoards of luminous orange-wearing away supporters at London Stadium, it is certainly a case of saving the best to last in our analysis, the real match-deciding moment, our final Massive Moment.
It looked for all the world like, in the third minute of four minutes of added-time, that both teams were going to be coming away with a point, that was until the Hammers won a free-kick midway through their own half.
It was played short to central-midfielder and Colombian International Carlos Sanchez, who couldn’t pick a pass and just dwelled on the ball a little too long, soon being dispossessed by Ruben Neves.
The visitors’ star man laid the ball off to substitute Bonatini, eager to make up for his earlier miss, the Portugal man made for goal quickly, slipping super sub Traore in behind Issa Diop to rifle a speedy low finish underneath Fabianski and in.
The strike stunned London Stadium, causing most of the ground to groan in disappointment and sending a small section into delirium, while many argued that Wolves probably deserved the win judging by the whole match, this was indeed, a bitter pill for Pellegrini’s men to swallow, one that will take a long time to go down.
So, now that we have analysed the Five Massive Moments from yet another uninspiring afternoon for West Ham at London Stadium, one they will be in a rush to forget, will there be some more positive Massive Moments to reflect on come the other side of the International break, after Pellegrini’s boys have paid Marco Silva’s Everton a Premier League visit? Join us once again, after that one, to find out.