ADEMOLA LOOKMAN’S embarrassing attempt to be clever cost Fulham dear as he fluffed a cheeky Panenka penalty to cost his side a late draw at West Ham.
Scott Parker’s side were handed the chance to seal a point with the final kick of the game when sub Said Benrahma gave away a penalty two minutes after setting up the Hammers' opener.
But Lookman decided he was going to try to be the big superstar with his spot-kick – only to loop the tamest of efforts into the grateful arms of Lukasz Fabianski to save.
It was a horror moment for the winger who should spend the international break apologising to his teammates and Fulham fans for wasting the chance of a deserved draw.
For West Ham to truly prove they have made a step forward they have to show they can make easy meat of lesser opposition.
For several seasons now they have turned in stellar displays against the top teams in the division only to fall flat on their faces in matches they are expected to win.
One of the points Parker used to make to his teammates when he was a Hammer was that it’s easy to get up for the big games, but the best do it against the misfits too.
So for all the plaudits aimed in their direction over past month or so having seen off Wolves and Leicester and drawn with Spurs and Manchester City, the elephant in the room was the opening day horror show at home to Newcastle.
Judging by the way the Hammers started Moyes had been drilling the message home to his men because they were off like a train.
Only three minutes were on the clock when Arthur Masuaka, arriving t the far post, saw his effort blocked on the line by Ola Aina and Aaron Cresswell’s volley from the looping ball had to be turned over by Alphonse Areola.
Then Jarrod Bowen let fly with a dipping sixth minute volley which the Fulham keeper again could only tip over for a corner – and from the set-piece Seb Haller crashed a header against the top of the crossbar.
You were left fearing the worst for Fulham at that stage, but the steely resolve and determination of their manager is clearly starting to get through to the players.
There was no collapse under the pressure, instead working to gradually assume control in midfield and set about creating chances of their own.
Half chances came and went as Alexandar Mitrovic just failed to connect lunging in at the far post before Tom Cairney’s low ball fizzed across the face of goal with no-one from the Fulham side gambling to turn home.
Then on 24 minutes the opportunity Mitrovic had been waiting for to break his dry spell arrived as he isolated Cresswell at the far post to meet Cairney’s pinpoint cross.
But the big striker, usually so clinical in such a position, sent his header past the post and Fulham were left cursing their failure to take the lead.
The Hammers were always looking to play out wide to either wing and try to whip in crosses for Haller, who was putting himself about well enough in attack but still lacking the right kind of service.
And that made it relatively easy for Parker’s side to stay organised in defence and snuff out any real threat for the remainder of the opening half.
West Ham started the second period like they had the match, as Cresswell was denied a goal when Areola tipped his fierce 20-yardf free-kick against the bar.
Then Bowen’s half volley deflected off the back of Tosin Adarabioyo and Areola looked on relieved as the ball sailed just past the post with the keeper wrong-footed.
But Fulham again withstood the early assaults and offered their own attempt in attack with an Ademola Lookman free-kick warmed the hands of Lukasz Fabianski.
When Bobby De Cordova-Reid nutmegged Masuaka and forced the Hammers into a fine low save on 70 minutes that was the signal for Moyes to make changes in an bid to bring some much-needed creativity to his side.
Manuel Lanzini, the hero of the late draw against Spurs, and Said Benrahma were introduced to try to find a way to unlock Fulham through the middle rather than just with overlapping full-backs.
That at least brought so snap to the Hammers in attack and they were able to pin Fulham back for the majority of the final quarter of the game.
And it paid dividends two minutes into stoppage time when Benrahma teed up Tomas Soucek to drive the ball home and fire the home side into late lead.
But the drama was not ever, as Fulham earned an even later penalty when Cairney tumbled over Benrahma’s dangling foot.
Yet Lookman was left holding his head humiliated by his amazing cock-up as West Ham got way with the win.
Source: Read Full Article