West Ham managed a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Monday night, in an admittedly subdued affair that secured the Hammers a fifth consecutive home win.
A first half that lacked any real cutting edge quality was slowed down by several Bournemouth players suffering injuries and both sides struggling to knit play together in the final third. Crucially, though, the Hammers pulled ahead right before half-time with a controversial goal, that appeared to involve a handball before being headed in by Kurt Zouma.
Quality was still lacking significantly after the break, but West Ham pushed Bournemouth and came close to doubling their lead on several occasions. The Cherries hung on to give themselves a chance of stealing a result, but didn’t move the ball well enough and were punished by a harsh penalty decision at the death.
Both sides felt their way into proceedings very slowly, with spells of possession looking admittedly sloppy from the off. It was West Ham who started brighter, though, and picked up quickly at home, knocking on the door on more than one occasion.
Flynn Downes came close to giving the hosts the lead after 20 minutes but instead forced a fine block from Chris Mepham, before Neto was called into action to deny the rebound. Tomas Soucek then tried his luck, but a good move was eventually pulled back for an offside against Gianluca Scamacca.
Injuries firstly to Neto and then to Dominic Solanke – who was ultimately forced off – unsettled Bournemouth. They made a mess of defending a corner on the cusp of half-time, allowing West Ham to take the lead through Kurt Zouma who got the last touch on a loose ball that had come off Thilo Kehrer’s arm in the build up.
After losing Solanke just before half-time, Neto was also unable to continue despite his best efforts and was replaced by Mark Travers for the second half, with injuries coming down hard on the Cherries.
David Moyes’ side clearly smelled blood and picked up the tempo after the break. Jefferson Lerma was fortunate not to be sent off for an off the floor sliding challenge on Gianluca Scamacca, with Bournemouth looking increasingly desperate, but crucially not buckling.
Substitute stopper Travers got down well just before the hour mark to paw away Jarrod Bowen’s low effort heading for the bottom corner. He was called into action again shortly after to divert a long-range effort from Declan Rice, to keep his side in the game.
A rare venture forward for Bournemouth saw Kieffer Moore fizz a teasing ball across Lukasz Fabianski’s goal, but nobody could get connect with it. The visitors perked up in the closing stages having kept the Hammers to just one goal, and should’ve done more to capitalise on Fabianski failing to hold a cross late on.
Just as Bournemouth probed, they were derailed in the final minute of regulation time when VAR awarded West Ham a penalty for a handball against a sliding Jordan Zemura. Said Benrahma converted with confidence to secure the win, harshly resigning Gary O’Neill’s side to back-to-back defeats for the first time since August.