IT was fun while it lasted for West Ham – but maybe a title push is not for them after all.
David Moyes’ side had the chance to climb up to second in the table as they chased five wins on the bounce, but instead they were outclassed by Wolves.
And they were finally put to the sword by Bruno Lage’s ever improving team as Raul Jimenez lashed home from the edge of the box to secure a deserved victory.
In doing so, the boys from the Black Country continued their quiet climb up the Premier League and now sit in sixth – just outside the race for the Champions League places.
Few teams will have wanted the international break less than West Ham, who had been riding the crest of a wave that has seen them among the leading group this season.
Losing that weekly momentum was compounded by the news key defender Angelo Ogbonna’s season is over after knee surgery – which mean Craig Dawson came into the back line.
It was disjointed from the off from the London side, even though they enjoyed the better of the opening quarter as Wolves themselves struggled to find any rhythm.
And had Jarrod Bowen not steered a 12th-minute header just the wrong side of the post then perhaps the Hammers would have had the perfect springboard for a fifth straight win.
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But that was the only chance they carved out in a first half which saw Wolves grow more and more dominant as every minute passed – and they should really have been ahead by the break.
Only a fine block from Aaron Cresswell denied Nelson Semedo the opening goal from 12 yards while Ruben Neves tested Lukasz Fabianski with a typical shot from long range.
Then on 33 minutes Jimenez wasted a golden chance to break the deadlock when he was left free to run through on goal, but with just Fabianski to beat he tried to be too clever with a dinked effort which failed to even have the legs to make the target.
Only a minute later Fabianski tipped a Joao Moutinho drive over the bar as Wolves looked like scoring ever time they went forward.
One thing West Ham have shown under Moyes is a resilience, so you expected them to have improved on what was an abject opening half showing after the break.
But it was a case of more of the same as Lage’s side poured forward art will and the Hammer were unable to contain them.
Only the sharp reflexes of Fabianski was keeping the home side at bay – and twice he was at his best to deny Daniel Podence.
First the Pole got down low to tip a shot around the post, and he then went full straight to touch away Podence’s shot which was heading for the top corner.
The resistance would not last for much longer, as on 58 minutes Wolves finally secured the lead they so deserved.
This time Podence was the architect, allowed too much space on the right to roll a ball across the edge of the area where Jimenez struck a first time show into the bottom corner.
Falling behind at least stirred the Hammers into something resembling a response, though in truth they had been so bad it would have been hard for them not to improve.
But with Michail Antonio enduring yet another ineffective display in attack, Wolves were rarely troubled at the back.
And had Max Kilman not miscontrolled eight yards out, then they should have doubled their lead four minutes from time.
“Champions League, you’re having a laugh”, the Wolves fans sang to their rivals. They may just be right.
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