Nottingham Forest 2-0 West Ham United
Premier League, City Ground, Saturday 17 February 2024
West Ham United succumbed to their third Premier League defeat in a row at the hands of Nottingham Forest, with Taiwo Awoniyi and Callum Hudson-Odoi goals in first and second-half added time proving the difference between the sides.
Mohammed Kudus and Michail Antonio were among the Hammers’ most lively players in and around the Forest danger area in the opening 45, but Alphonse Areola was required to make a handful of fine stops to keep it 0-0 before the deadlock was eventually broken by Awoniyi.
James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen had chances to equalise after the restart, but a red card for recent arrival Kalvin Phillips made things harder with 19 minutes to go, and Hudson-Odoi put the result beyond doubt at the death.
The loss leaves the east Londoners eighth in the table as things stand, one point behind Newcastle United above them, ahead of a home clash against Brentford on Monday 26 February.
Boss David Moyes made two changes to the XI that started the defeat at home to Arsenal last time out, with Antonio returning for his first appearance since November in place of Ben Johnson, and Phillips coming in for Tomáš Souček in midfield.
The hosts fed off the lively atmosphere in the early stages and Areola came to West Ham’s rescue within four minutes, the Frenchman brilliantly blocking a powerful Anthony Elanga drive with his feet after Nuno Tavares had beaten Vladimír Coufal down the left.
Kudus led the Irons’ response, hitting a deflected effort towards goal at the back post, and then both he and Forest No10 Morgan Gibbs-White were shown yellow cards at the end of an entertaining opening ten minutes.
Following a slightly quieter spell, which saw Awoniyi head tamely at goal for Forest, a low Phillips shot was comfortably collected by Matz Sels, before Areola made another goal-saving stop to deny Gibbs-White.
Awoniyi again called Areola into action just past the half-hour mark, with the latter this time blocking the ball with his feet one-on-one, moments after Sels had delivered the same fate to Antonio.
The Reds continued to push for the opener as the clock ticked towards half-time though, and deep into five minutes of added time, Awoniyi duly slipped past Nayef Aguerd inside the 18-yard box and slotted home to make it 1-0.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s charges carried their winning momentum into the start of the second half, and Elanga went close to doubling their lead with a fierce volley that Areola acrobatically tipped off target.
A Ward-Prowse free-kick floated over the bar at the other end shortly after the hour, after Neco Williams had bundled Antonio over, and then Bowen worked his way into a shooting position but just couldn’t get enough power on his shot.
Danilo was next to have a go for Forest, with his audacious 20-yard volley being punched to safety by Areola, moments before the Hammers’ task was steepened when Phillips was shown the second of two quick-fire yellow cards.
Forest looked to make their numerical advantage count immediately, and both Tavares and Elanga came close to making it 2-0 but just couldn’t keep their shots below the woodwork.
A lengthy VAR check ended in Maxwel Cornet’s favour after the Ivorian substitute collided with Williams in the box, and then a Danilo drive found the net but was quickly chalked off for offside.
Moyes’ men continued to battle for a share of the spoils throughout six minutes of added time, but Forest held on under pressure before snatching a second on the counter-attack through Hudson-Odoi.
Nottingham Forest: Sels, Williams, Felipe, Murillo, Tavares, Domínguez (Yates 86), Danilo, Elanga, Gibbs-White © (Omobamidele 90+3), Hudson-Odoi, Awoniyi (Origi 67)
Subs: Turner (GK), Kouyaté, Toffolo, Niakhaté, Reyna, Ribeiro
Goals: Awoniyi 45+5, Hudson-Odoi 90+4
Booked: Gibbs-White, Awoniyi, Williams, Domínguez
West Ham United: Areola, Coufal (Johnson 76), Zouma © (Ings 90+3), Aguerd, Emerson (Souček 83), Phillips, Álvarez, Ward-Prowse, Kudus, Antonio (Cornet 76), Bowen
Subs: Fabiański (GK), Ogbonna, Mavropanos, Cresswell, Mubama
Booked: Kudus, Antonio, Zouma, Coufal, Phillips
Referee: Tom Bramall