Fulham 5 West Ham 0
Something magical must have happened in this part of southwest London during last month’s international break.
At that point – in what must feel like a different era for Fulham fans – Marco Silva’s side had scored just 10 goals in their opening 12 Premier League fixtures and were trying their hardest not to look worriedly down.
Four games later they have turned the division’s goalscoring dud into a lethal marksman, bloodied the noses of some teams with lofty aspirations, and found the net a scarcely believable 16 times.
After what Silva had described as one of the toughest preseasons of his career, Fulham have found their voice in spectacular fashion. Back-to-back 5-0 wins do not come around very often.
This victory – a third in four games – was wrapped up by Fulham’s fourth goal scored on the hour, at which point the staircases in the away end suddenly filled with West Ham supporters making an early exit back across London, the joy from their victory over Tottenham three days earlier painfully short lived.
The catalyst for their departure was perhaps the crispest Harry Wilson will ever strike a ball, curling it into the top corner with the type of finish the world’s best would justifiably be lauded for. But the outcome had long been in little doubt.
For a West Ham travelling contingent well accustomed to watching their team cede possession, an all-too-brief bright start faded rapidly to gloom as their side were outplayed in every area.
Unchanged for the first time this season after thrashing Nottingham Forest 5-0 in midweek, Fulham’s opener continued the unlikeliest of resurgences for Raúl Jiménez who has now consigned a run of 33 Premier League games without a goal to history by scoring four in his last five. This one came courtesy of a powerful header to finish a lethal João Palhinha whipped cross.
By half-time, the hosts had two more. Palhinha was again the provider for Fulham’s second, fizzing the ball across the six-yard box where Willian calmly curled it into the bottom corner. A thunderous Tosin Adarabioyo header then compounded West Ham’s misery, rising highest to nod Andreas Pereira’s corner into the net.
When substitute Wilson cut inside 15 minutes into the second half and stroked the ball into the top corner from range, any remaining embers hoping to ignite a West Ham comeback were extinguished.
Not that there were ever any signs of them doing so. The visitors had reaped all the benefits of David Moyes’s cautious approach in the 2-1 win at Spurs in midweek, defending stoutly and capitalising on their few chances.
But despite a run of six games without defeat prior to this, results had not been enough to prevent criticism of the drab style under Moyes. This defeat will only add to the growing voices of dissent.
Bernd Leno was asked no more than gentle probing questions from West Ham’s few goalscoring efforts, best epitomised by a wild Said Benrahma shot blazed so high with 20 minutes remaining that it came within metres of clearing the entire Putney End stand.
With daylight fading, the visitors saved their worst until last. Undone by nothing more than a straight long ball, the West Ham defence were entirely absent as Wilson bore down on Fabianski’s goal and knocked the ball to Carlos Vinícius in support, who tapped into an empty net. The humiliation was complete. – Guardian