Cherries humbled by Hammers to start 2020
- Graham Scott
A new year, but there was little cheer for AFC Bournemouth as they fell to a 4-0 loss away to West Ham United at the London Stadium..
The hosts took the lead when a major deflection saw Mark Noble's low shot find the bottom corner, and Sebastian Haller's brilliant finish gave the Hammers breathing room and a second goal after 25 minutes.
Noble's penalty stretched West Ham's lead to three as they headed in at the break with a commanding lead.
Felipe Anderson sprinted clear and added a fourth past the hour, with Dominic Solanke's post-hitting header the closest the Cherries came to scoring on a difficult start to the new year for the visitors in London.
Injuries again forced Eddie Howe's hand with his starting line-up, Joshua King and Jack Stacey missing out due to hamstring injuries, with Simon Francis and Callum Wilson among the four changes coming into the side following the match at Brighton.
The West Ham bubbles blew from the touchline as the Cherries got the game going on a still but cold evening in the capital.
It was a slow start to the contest, Pablo Fornals with the game's first shot as he curled some way over from the angle of the penalty area in the tenth minute, but seven minutes later an enormous slice of fortune helped the Hammers into the lead.
Robert Snodgrass got the ball into a threatening position down the right flank before laying back for Noble. The skipper took on a low first-time shot from 20 yards, the ball ricocheting off Lewis Cook and bobbling helplessly past Aaron Ramsdale and into the far corner.
There was a VAR check after Harry Wilson was sent to the turf in the West Ham area, nothing doing, with a Snodgrass free-kick from the wing soon deflecting more kindly and flashing wide.
The Hammers grabbed their second in athletic fashion just past the midway point of the half, this time Haller acrobatically volleying home a high cross from Ryan Fredericks as the home side took a stranglehold on the match.
Callum Wilson broke through and forced Lukasz Fabianski into a good low save, the offside flag soon raised either way, though worse was to follow for the Cherries when Harry Wilson bundled over Noble in the area to gift the home side a penalty.
Noble himself stepped up, sending Ramsdale the wrong way as he dispatched his shot from 12 yards into the bottom-right corner.
Diego Rico gave Fabianski a save to make as he fired in from range at the end of the period, but there was to be no Cherries response ahead of the half-time break.
Looking for a way to turn the match around, the Cherries made a double change ahead of the restart: Ryan Fraser and Junior Stanislas coming in for Diego Rico and Harry Wilson as the visitors switched to three at the back.
Lewis Cook did well to intervene a ball into the box to end a West Ham counter, the match even as it ticked past the hour mark, the away side struggling to make a telling impact in the final third.
There was further pain for the Cherries supporters as West Ham added a fourth, Anderson latching onto a Declan Rice right long ball and racing clear before slotting under Ramsdale.
Callum Wilson got into a good position and directed a cut-back for Stanislas, a sliding interception breaking the attack up.
Aaron Cresswell appeared to have blotted his side's copy book as he was issued with a straight red card by referee Graham Scott for a reckless tackle on Fraser, but after a VAR check the decision was downgraded to a caution and the left-back remained on the field.
Solanke came within a lick of paint of scoring his first Premier League goal for Bournemouth as the striker flicked Fraser's cross onto the inside of the post, the ball bouncing along the goal line and into Fabianski's grasp.
Ramsdale saved well to deny substitute Manuel Lanzini's header and the Cherries 'keeper prevented further damage again as he got down smartly to block Fornals' powered effort.
Four minutes of additional time were signalled, but the game was played out at a walking pace as the Cherries started 2020 with a capital disappointment.