Kalvin Phillips is used to picking up short passes under pressure from his time with Manchester City, but not like this. Not when he is on the edge of his own box with nowhere to turn except into trouble.
The danger was obvious when Kurt Zouma had the ball. Ryan Christie was breathing down the neck of Phillips, and Dominic Solanke was covering Alphonse Areola. Even Pablo Fornals could see what was coming next and his head was buried in his mobile phone in the London Stadium’s tunnel, awaiting word on his £6.8million move to Real Betis.
Zouma played the ball into Phillips – the very definition of a hospital pass – and Bournemouth’s high press did its job. The panicked loanee lost possession, Solanke scored, and the visitors had the lead after two minutes and 22 seconds. Blame Phillips if you want, but Zouma must also accept responsibility for the City loanee's regrettable start to life with West Ham.
David Moyes’s men were at least able to avoid losing to that early error. They equalised in the 61st minute with James Ward-Prowse scoring a penalty after a trip by Lloyd Kelly on the lively Mohammed Kudus, now back from the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana.
But the boos at half-time and full-time told you the fans’ dissatisfaction with this dreary display overall and Moyes said he did not blame them: ‘I’m happy with the point. I’m not happy with the performance. We looked as if we’d had a holiday which we hadn’t had. We gave them a leg-up right away.’
James Ward-Prowse's goal from the penalty spot earned West Ham a point on Thursday
Dominic Solanke slotted the ball home after just three minutes to give Bournemouth the lead
The Cherries striker took full advantage of a mistake by Hammers debutant Kalvin Phillips
It was a horrendous start for Phillips but it came after the very definition of a hospital pass
His counterpart Andoni Iraola said: ‘If either of the teams deserved to win, it was Bournemouth.’
West Ham: Areola, Johnson, Mavropanos, Zouma, Emerson, Soucek, Phillips (Ings 68), Alvarez, Ward-Prowse, Kudus (Cornet 90+6), Bowen
Subs: Fabianski, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Casey, Mubama, Scarles, Orford
Goal: Ward-Prowse 61'
Bournemouth: Neto, Smith, Zabrarnyi, Senesi, Kelly (Kerkez 78), Cook, Christie, Semenyo (Sinisterra 68), Scott (Kluivert 68), Tavernier (Faivre 90+1) , Solanke
Subs: Mepham, Kilkenny, Billing, Travers, Kinsey-Wellings
Booked: Cook, Christie, Faivre
Goal: Solanke 3'
West Ham were so short of options that Moyes named four central midfielders in his line-up. Phillips was one of them, the club’s sole January signing making his first Premier League start of the season.
Being stitched up by one of his new team-mates within three minutes was not supposed to be in the script. With West Ham being pinned back by Bournemouth’s trademark high press under Iraola, Zouma played a pass into Phillips instead of looking long. Big mistake.
Bournemouth stole the ball as Phillips tried to pass to Areola, and Solanke scored into the gaping goal with VAR Simon Hooper confirming that there was no offside to save West Ham.
Moyes tried to sign Solanke last summer. West Ham offered £40m, which Bournemouth turned down. Great goalscorer, Solanke, but he did not have to work hard for his 13th Premier League strike of the season.
Bournemouth should have doubled their lead after 35 minutes when West Ham’s defence was split open. It came from another hospital pass in trying to play out from the back, this time from Ben Johnson into Edson Alvarez. Bournemouth won the ball and broke forward, with a superb save from Areola denying Antoine Semenyo.
Jarrod Bowen came closest for West Ham in the first half when he tried to get a glancing header to Ward-Prowse’s cross, but Neto stopped it from sailing in. Otherwise, the Hammers were tepid beyond belief and the supporters let them know their thoughts, jeering at the half-time whistle.
A VAR review took place close when Mohamed Kudus was fouled inside the box by Lloyd Kelly
Ward-Prowse made no mistake and put the penalty right down the middle after the hour mark
In the 58th minute, Kudus sprinted into the box with Kelly struggling to keep up. There was a trip, but no penalty awarded by the referee, Tim Robinson, in real time. Moyes was furious as he burst out of his technical area and on to the field in protest.
He had a point. It was the most obvious foul you will see as Kelly kicked Kudus’s leg. VAR gave Robinson a second chance via his pitch-side monitor, where he awarded the spot-kick. Ward-Prowse stepped up and went straight down the middle for 1-1 as Neto dived out of the ball's way.
Moyes turned to his bench after 68 minutes as Danny Ings replaced Phillips, who will need to build his way up to a full 90.
Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland (left) was here at the London Stadium
Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland was here at the London Stadium, studying Solanke, Bowen and others. It is good news for England that Phillips will be guaranteed game-time ahead of Euro 2024. Though this was not the debut he desired, better showings will follow.
There were further boos at full-time from a crowd dissatisfied with what they had seen from West Ham. Performance-wise, Moyes has work to do to win over his critics, but the bigger picture is they remain sixth in the Premier League.
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