Wolves 2-3 West Ham: Sizzling Irons keep European tour dreams alive
Lingard opened the scoring early on with a sensational solo run. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

West Ham United survived a late Wolverhampton Wanderers onslaught to secure a 3-2 victory at Molineux courtesy of a brilliant first-half performance.

Jesse Lingard's brilliant solo goal was followed by a neat Pablo Fornals goal to storm the Hammers into a 2-0 lead on a cold evening in the West Midlands.

After replacing Michail Antonio, who was forced off with a hamstring injury, Jarred Bowen made it 3-0 with another swift counter-attack from the vistors.

Despite looking leaky at the back, Wolves did look dangerous all evening in the final third and they kept themselves in the game when Leander Dendoncker headed in his first goal of the season from Adama Traore's cross- the winger's first assist of the campaign.

It was set up for a nervy 20 minutes for the Hammers when Fabio Silva struck a low drive into the bottom corner after Pedro Neto picked out the striker with a brilliant ball.

The hosts failed to muster another opportunity late on despite their efforts, with Neto and Dendoncker both failing to hit the target from long range.

Story of the match

Wolves were handed a early blow prior to the game when they announced that Jonny Otto Castro (ACL), Joao Moutinho (groin) and Willy Boly (positive covid test) would all miss the game.

The absence trio forced Nuno Espirito Santo into a change in shape and personnel, with Rayan Ait-Nouri and Daniel Podence returning to the line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation- a system the Wanderers haven't deployed since the poor first-half performance against Arsenal at the start of February.

Their trusty back three with advanced wing-backs has been in use since the 2-1 victory over the Gunners, claiming two wins, three draws and three defeats.

The game didn't take long to come alive, with Willian Jose and Antonio having efforts on goal in the opening four minutes. Jose dragged his strike wide of the post after calmy turning in the box before Antonio's thunderous strike was tipped onto the post by Rui Patricio.

It was 1-0 after only six minutes when Lingard produced one of the best solo goals this season to score his sixth goal since his move to the Hammers. The Manchester United loanee collected the ball on the halfway line, easily evaded Romain Saiss and the watching Wolves defence before putting the ball past Patricio.

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West Ham didn't stop there, as Fornals side-footed the ball into the corner of the goal following a piece of spectacular skill from Lingard. The England international flicked the ball up and past Nelson Semedo allowing Arthur Masuaku to pull the ball back for the Spanish playmaker to double David Moyes' team's lead.

Going two goals down forced Wolves to be more expressive, enjoying large periods of possession. Traore registered a shot on target as they looked to get back in the contest.

However the lead was extended when West Ham countered Wolves with blistering pace, with Lingard fighting off three players before feeding Bowen, who had just replaced Antonio, fired the ball past Patricio at his front post for the winger's third goal against the Wanderers this season.

There was almost an instant response from Wolves as Jose's strike on goal was brilliantly parried away by Lukasz Fabianski before Neto fired the rebound wide of goal despite having an empty net.

Wolves did reply before the interval through Dendoncker's first goal of the season. Traore dismissed challenges from Vladimir Coufal, Mark Noble and Lingard before delivering an inch-perfect cross for the Belgian to head into the bottom corner.

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Tennager Silva was introduced at half-time as Espirito Santo looked to make the most of Dendoncker's consolation strike. But it was the leaders who looked like scoring when Tomas Soucek tucked away the rebound from Bowen's strike, only for VAR to rule the goal out for handball.

The revival from the home side continued when Silva struck his third Premier League goal past Fabianski with a low drive into the bottom corner.

It could have very easily have been 3-3 moments later when Ait-Nouri made his way into the West Ham area beforefiring the ball across the box for Dendoncker on the edge of the area, but the midfielder couldn't add to his earlier goal and blazed the attempt over.

The victory puts West Ham into fourth, one point clear of Chelsea with eight games remaining of the season. For Wolves, they remain 14th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.

Takeaways

Fabio Silva deserves to start more for Wolves

Not for the first time this season that Silva has been introduced and made a difference when called-upon. The 18-year-old scored his third goal of the season with a neatly driven shot in the second half to show signs of him developing into a top striker.

However, the issue Nuno Espirito Santo finds himself is whether to start the young man. His influence when brought on is a reason alone to why he should start in place of Willian Jose.

Since his loan arrival in January, the Brazilian forward is yet to score and is showing serious signs that he is low on confidence.

Long-term the smart move would be to hand Silva more minutes from the off, furthering his development to get him ready for next season and the future.

Right now, he seems more likely to find the net than Jose does. His introduction at half-time seemed to raise Wolves in the final 45 minutes and he has certainly made an argument for him to start at Craven Cottage on Friday evening.

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