West Ham played their first friendly at the London Stadium today, as they welcomed the Italian champions, Juventus. It was always going to be a challenge, especially when considering that West Ham were last in action on Thursday night in the Europa League qualifiers. However, they fought against Juventus but fell short to a late goal by Simone Zaza, ending the game at 3-2.
A slow start to the game
Following all the theatrical work that comes with unveiling a new stadium, the reality settled on and off the pitch that this was indeed just a friendly.
West Ham seemed stuck in second gear for the majority of the first half, however the home side were close to making a breakthrough just after the half hour mark.
After a spell of confusion from the Juventus back four, the ball broke loose to Josh Cullen, who found teammate Enner Valencia at a narrow angle in the box. The Ecuador international was closed down by the Juventus defence, forcing him to fire his shot against the post.
Juventus punish West Ham
Despite striking the post, just over a minute later it was Juventus that opened the scoring at the London Stadium. Dani Alves' cross was swung deep into the box, finding Mario Mandzukic at the far post, the Croatian headed the ball back across the box, which was brought down sensationally by Paolo Dybala, the Argentinian made no mistake in finishing the move off expertly.
Juventus' front two didn't stop there, as they combined two minutes later to bring further problems to the sluggish movement of West Ham. Goal scorer, Dybala beat Reid on the right side before cutting in and unselfishly found Mandzukic in acres of space across the box, the striker made no mistake in lifting his shot over Adrian making it 2-0 to Juventus after a three minute vicious burst.
Carroll sparked hope in West Ham before half time
The shock of going two down didn't dwell on the minds of West Ham, the Hammers got one back just before half time. A fantastic cross by Sam Byram found Andy Carroll in the box. The striker instinctively attacked the cross, his header was unable to be held by Gianluigi Buffon leaving Carroll to scramble the ball in from close range to ensure the goal was his.
With an assist and a goal to his name in the first half, Mandzukic came close again to scoring as Alves' cross found him at the back post, the striker's effort was parried away by Adrian at his near post at the expense of a corner. The corner resulted in two serious Juve goal attempts, leaving the Italians wondering how they didn't score. Mandzukic's scruffy volley was cleared on the line by Havard Nordtveit, the rebound was fired against the crossbar by Mehdi Benatia before Adrian finally cleared.
Carroll strikes again to level the scoreline
Five minutes after half time, West Ham were well and truly back in the game, as Mark Noble's free kick found none other than Andy Carroll in the box. The Englishman was clinical once more in the air, his header firing into the low spot of the Juventus net. Carroll proving once more what he can do in the box.
Juventus steal the game in the dying moments
With the game trundling at slow pace, for the majority of the second half, penalties looked to be on the horizon. One man was certainly not willing to let the game go to penalties, that man being Zaza.
After the Italian's nightmare worthy penalty antics in France, he found an opportunity to score in the 85th minute to wrap the game up without the need for penalty kicks. Andrea Barzagli's long distance pass over the midfield left the West Ham defence stranded as Zaza cushioned the ball into his possession, before sliding the ball beyond the reach of Adrian to win the game for Juventus.
West Ham's season begins a week tomorrow, as they travel to south London to battle against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The hammers were unable to mark a victory against Conte's former team today, however they will be hoping to dent the Italians pride in his new colours at Chelsea.