West Ham started the game best and should have been ahead in the opening 10 minutes, probably by more than one goal.There was a double chance in the fourth minute after Jarrod Bowen slammed into a tackle with Antonee Robinson, won the ball and burst past Fulham’s forward defensive line. His reduction from the starting line came to Arthur Masuaku and the Frenchman led a shot on goal from 10 yards but drew a solid save from Alphonse Areola. The rebound came to Aaron Cresswell who shot hard again, and again on target, but the Fulham goalkeeper stepped up to the task once again.
Two minutes later, another double chance. This time it was Bowen at the end of the delivery, from a corner of Cresswell. The cross was aimed at the penalty spot and Aleksandar Mitrovic cleared his lines, but only to the edge of the box. Bowen was waiting to kick the ball on the volley and he hummed positively in the air, behind Mitrovic’s head and over Areola’s crossbar and behind.
From the next delivery from Cresswell, Sébastien Haller showed good movement to pass to the near post but a less impressive execution: his header, which should at least have been on target, rebounded off the bar.
So the hosts got off to a good start. Their power and intensity seemed to be a constant problem for Fulham. Except it didn’t work out that way for the rest of the half. Instead, Fulham came back to life, their left side leading the way, with Robinson backing the mercurial Lookman to test Bowen and his Czech teammate Vladimir Coufal backwards.
After some half-chances on set pieces, Fulham opened a good 24th-minute opener, an extended possession period ending with Tom Cairney adding his presence on the left and folding a cross past West Ham back three. Mitrovic waited at the far post and managed the jump on his man, but with time to steer his header, the Serbian – usually so reliable in the air – could only direct the ball past Lukasz Fabianski’s right post.
The start of the second half mirrored that of the first. Again, West Ham should have scored. First, Cresswell saw a superb free kick pick up any touch from Areola on the way to the bar strike.
Then, in the 52nd minute, Bowen positioned himself on the edge of the box to lead another left-footed volley towards the goal from a corner of Cresswell. Hit almost as well as the first, this effort took a deviation and with Areola on his knees the goal was gaping. But Bowen must have tugged at his hair as he watched the ball spin around.
Much like the first half, West Ham’s dominance did not hold up. Once again, Fulham worked their way into the game, their brisk game sometimes feeling too fast for the home side’s six-footer. With visitors looking more and more dangerous, but without creating clearer opportunities, David Moyes chose to brush up on his attack options. Said Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini replaced Bowen and Pablo Fornals.