A late Tomas Soucek header earned West Ham United a dramatic 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest at the London Stadium on Sunday.
West Ham took an early lead thanks to a crisp Lucas Paqueta strike, before being pegged back by goals from Taiwo Awoniyi and Anthony Elanga.
Thanks to James Ward Prowse’s consistently brilliant set piece deliveries into the Forest penalty area, however, the Hammer would find a route back into the game first through a Jarrod Bowen header before Soucek won the match.
The victory sees West Ham rise up to ninth in the Premier League table, while Forest remain just seven points clear of the relegation zone in 15th place.
How the game unfolded
Inside the opening three minutes, West Ham capitalised on a careless bit of play from Nicolas Domingez to make it 1-0. The summer signing played a horrid pass off the back of midfield partner Orel Mangala and directly into the path of Paqueta who, after controlling the ball, curled beautifully into the bottom right corner of the net.
That goal woke Forest up a bit, with Castrol Save of the Month winner Alphonse Areola making another stunning stop to deny Taiwo Awoniyi an equaliser. The France international dove quickly to his left to get fingertips on a thunderous Awoniyi header from just eight yards out.
After that thrilling opening 15 minutes of action, the game devolved into a bit of a drab affair for much of the rest of the first half. Both sides largely struggled to exhibit any real quality in the final third for the bulk of the half, until Forest’s star man Morgan Gibbs-White popped up to create the equalising goal in the 44th minute.
The attacking midfielder burst into the right-hand side of the box and forced Areola into a fantastic save with a low strike across goal, and Awoniyi was able to rush in before any West Ham defender in order to tap home.
At the very start of the second half, Awoniyi almost gave his side a 2-1 lead. After some outstanding link-up play between the Nigerian and Anthony Elanga, the striker rolled an effort from the edge of the box narrowly wide of the foot of the post.
Moments later, West Ham went up the other end and came close to taking the lead themselves. Their chance would fall to Emerson Palmieri, who was just unable to find the bottom corner of the net with a drilled strike.
Emerson and West Ham were made to rue that missed opportunity on the hour mark when Forest made it 2-1. The goal would come courtesy of some lovely play from the in-form Ola Aina on the right flank, with the full-back driving into the box before finding Elanga with a clever pull-back cross to the middle of the penalty area. Elanga would make no mistake with his subsequent first-time effort, side-footing into the corner of the net.
Forest’s lead wouldn’t last too long – a grand total of 46 seconds to be exact. West Ham’s top scorer Jarrod Bowen quickly levelled things for the home side, rising highest at the near post to head home a James Ward-Prowse corner kick.
The action continued thereafter, with Tomas Soucek latching onto a dreadful attempted header back to the Forest goalkeeper to volley off the crossbar.
The visitors gave away a few too many set pieces late in the game and were nearly made to pay once again by Ward Prowse in the 84th minute. The midfielder whipped a stunning free kick into the heart of the penalty and right into the path of the unmarked Soucek, who saw his subsequent headed effort brilliantly saved by Odysseas Vlachodimos in goal.
Ward Prowse’s set-piece deliveries eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. Once again Ward Prowse would curl a great corner kick – his ninth of the game – into the box and, once again, Soucek would get his head on it. This time, however, the Czech international was able to find a way past Vlachodimos, heading right into the bottom corner of the net.
GK: Alphonse Areola – 6/10 – Made an utterly sublime save in the 10th minute. So good, in fact, that’s probably going to win another Save of the Month award.
RB: Vladimir Coufal – 5/10 – Struggled at times up against the dynamic Elanga.
CB: Kurt Zouma – 6/10 – Won four duels in a decent outing.
CB: Nayef Aguerd – 6/10 – Battled well against Awoniyi.
LB: Emerson Palmieri – 5/10 – Caught out of position in the lead-up to the equalising goal.
CM: Tomas Soucek – 7/10 – He was a constant threat from set pieces and deservedly got his goal late on.
CM: Edson Alvarez – 6/10 – Put in a shift for his team, as per.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 8/10 – His set pieces once again came up trumps for West Ham, with the former Southampton man setting up two goals in the second half from corner kicks.
RW: Mohammed Kudus – 6/10 – Worked hard up and down the flank throughout and showed off his box of tricks on a few occasions too.
ST: Jarrod Bowen – 7/10 – Popped up with his eighth goal of the season so far to make it 2-2. He’s done well as a centre-forward recently.
LW: Lucas Paqueta – 7/10 – A lovely finish to open the scoring.
SUB: Mikel Antonio (78′ for Alvarez) – 5/10.
SUB: Angelo Ogbonna (90′ for Kudus) – N/A.
SUB: Aaron Creswell (90′ for Paqueta) – N/A.
Subs not used: Danny Ings, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma, Konstantinos Mavropoanos, Thilo Kehrer, Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Manager – David Moyes – 7/10 – The decision to play Bowen up front paid dividends once again for Moyes, who was in dire need of a win on Sunday.
GK: Odisseas Vlachodimos – 6/10 – His quick kick-outs proved to be really effective for his side. He also made a fantastic save late in the game to deny Soucek.
RB: Ola Aina – 7/10 – Set up Forest’s second goal to continue his fine form.
CB: Moussa Niakhate – 5/10 – Struggled at times to deal with Bowen’s movement.
CB: Murillo – 6/10 – Calm on the ball and battled hard off it. The youngster looks like a serious player.
LB: Harry Toffolo – 6/10 – His delivery into the box was good when he got forward.
CM: Ibrahim Sangare – 6/10 – In a real battle in the middle of the park on Sunday.
CM: Orel Mangala – 5/10 – Worked hard for his team.
CM: Nicolas Dominguez – 3/10 – Clumsy in possession in the lead-up to West Ham’s opener. Hooked at half-time.
RW: Morgan Gibbs-White – 6/10 – He had his moments, but they were a bit more sparing than Forest fans perhaps would’ve liked.
ST: Taiwo Awoniyi – 7/10 – Bagged his first goal since August on the stroke of half-time, and could’ve had more had Areola not been in great form on the day. Forest are a much better team when he’s fit.
LW: Anthony Elanga – 7/10 – Scored a lovely goal in the second half to give his side a short-lived lead, and caused problems throughout with his direct running.
SUB: Danilo (46′ for Dominguez) – 7/10 – Made a big difference to Forest’s midfield when introduced.
SUB: Willy Boly (76′ for Murillo) – 5/10.
SUB: Serge Aurier (76′ for Aina) – 5/10.
SUB: Chris Wood (76′ for Awoniyi) – 5/10.
SUB: Divock Origi (90′ for Sangare) – N/A.
Subs not used: Cheikhou Kouyate, Ryan Yates, Neco Williams, Matt Turner
Manager – Steve Cooper – 6/10 – His team conceded way too many set pieces to West Ham during the game, and it ultimately cost them.