Report | Wolves 1-0 West Ham

Wolves 1 (Podence 48) West Ham 0

Daniel Podence fired home the only goal in front of the South Bank to see Wolves beat West Ham United and climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.

The Portuguese pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the Hammers boxed to bag his third goal in five matches. Ruben Neves then cannoned an effort off the underside of the crossbar when looking to make the game safe, but with the Hammers kept at bay at the other end, Molineux was able to celebrate with a sense of relief come 90 minutes, after Wolves leapfrogged their opponents into 16th.

Naturally when Julen Lopetegui arrived at Molineux, the Premier League was the priority, so a return to league action was welcome and the old gold started brightly, with Joao Moutinho glancing Hugo Bueno’s early cross wide. West Ham started the day one point better off than their hosts and Jarrod Bowen attempted to change that when testing Jose Sa.

Wolves were playing with vigour, and when Nelson Semedo produced the perfect touch when in behind down the right, he picked out Podence, whose dummy was unsuccessful, but Matheus Nunes cleaned up to curl into the arms of Lukasz Fabianski. The hosts continued to edge proceedings with the game nearing the half-hour mark, with Neves teeing himself up to hook over the bar on the turn.

The skipper was growing into the game, with his midfield company of Nunes and Moutinho busy ahead of him, and when the latter’s corner found Neves lurking on the bench, his side-footed volley whistled over the bar.

Half-time | Wolves 0-0 West Ham

Despite Wolves’ positive showing before the break, chances had been hard to come back. However, three minutes into the second half that changed. From West Ham’s own corner, Wolves broke through Semedo, who carried the ball over halfway and freed Nunes, and although his low cross touch a touch off a Hammers man, it fell nicely for Podence to sweep into the bottom corner from just inside the box.

The game was destined to be tight however, and as Paqueta had a sight of goal for the Hammers, he let fly, only for the ball to come back off his own man Michail Antonio. At the other end, Rayan Ait-Nouri – playing left wing – and Raul Jimenez were on the pitch, and they almost forced an opening for Wolves, only for the Hammers defence to crowd out the youngster before shooting.

However, Wolves did come within a couple of inches of finding breathing space with 15 to go. Nunes, not the first time, drove forward with the ball, assessing his options at the same time, and clipped a ball to Neves at the back post. The skipper took a touch past Vladimir Coufal and curled a beauty of a shot off the underside of the crossbar, before an offside Ait-Nouri hit the post with the rebound.

Despite Wolves controlling the game, West Ham remained one goal away from parity and when Gianluca Scamacca robbed Nathan Collins of the ball, Said Benrahma had a shot saved by Sa at his near post. The inevitable nerves arrived and weren’t helped when, with the clock ticking into added time, Declan Rice’s clipped crossed was headed wide by Scamacca.

You could cut the tension with a knife in the added time. Jimenez thought he’d added a second as his delicate chip found the back of the net, but the offside flag denied him. Then, with the final chance, Adama Traore stung the palms of Fabianski, but with that chance followed the full-time whistle and scenes of relief at Molineux.

Full-time | Wolves 1-0 West Ham

Wolves | Sa, Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno (Toti 83), Neves, Nunes, Moutinho (Adama 72), Hwang (Lemina 73), Podence (Ait-Nouri 63), Cunha (Jimenez 63).

Unused subs | Sarkic, Jonny, Hodge, Campbell.

West Ham | Fabianski, Coufal, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek (Benrahma 60), Paqueta, Bowen, Fornals (Scamacca 76), Antonio.

Unused subs | Randolph, Johnson, Zouma, Lanzini, Downes, Kehrer, Emerson.