The last time West Ham played Fulham in front of fans, the Hammers ran out 3-1 winners despite going behind and that is exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon, meaning it is now back-to-back wins for the Irons for the first time since January.
David Moyes made nine changes for Thursday night’s UEFA Europa Conference League match against RSC Anderlecht and he made another nine here, as Alphonse Areola, Ben Johnson, Angelo Ogbonna, Vladimír Coufal, Emmerson Palmieri, Flynn Downes, Manuel Lanzini, Saïd Benrahma and Michail Antonio dropped back to the bench, while Łukasz Fabiański, Thilo Kehrer, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček, Pablo Fornals, Lucas Paquetá and Gianluca Scamacca were all restored to the starting line-up.
Issa Diop returned to his former club but was amongst the substitutes for the visitors.
Fulham had a full week to prepare for this game after their 4-1 home defeat to Newcastle United last time out and that certainly paid off, as they went in front as early as the fifth minute with a strike out of the blue from summer signing Andreas Pereira giving Fabiański no chance in the home side’s goal.
Buoyed by the start they had made, Marco Silva’s men almost increased their advantage minutes later but fortunately for the home faithful, an effort from former Swansea City, Manchester United and Leeds United midfielder Daniel James came back off the crossbar.
After surviving that scare, West Ham piled on the pressure but nothing was coming off for them. That was until Pereira went from hero to villain for the visitors, as he gave away a penalty after fouling Craig Dawson. Whilst the crowd were calling for him to receive a red card, the Spaniard was only booked.
Jarrod Bowen is now in charge of taking spot kicks so he confidently stepped up and beat goalkeeper Bernd Leno to equalise.
Once they had drawn level, the Hammers seemed to have got their rhythm back and were trying to turn the game on its head. Scamacca was on the lookout for another spectacular goal but his attempt went inches wide.
The Italian striker wasn’t about to give up there however, as he went even closer with a header. Although it was on target, Leno somehow kept it out.
Now West Ham were back in the game, they clearly wanted to add another goal. However, the Cottagers stood firm and when referee Christopher Kavanagh blew the whistle for half-time, there was nothing between the two London teams.
The home faithful saw their side continue from where they had left off before the break and Paquetá nearly claimed his first goal for the club, following his summer move from Olympique Lyonnais. Cresswell picked out the midfielder in space and he went for a near post effort but unfortunately, he was unable to apply the finishing touch.
Moyes’ men were still pressurising their opponents and Cresswell was involved again as he set up Scamacca minutes later but he also passed up the opportunity, sending a header wide.
The former Sassuolo man was determined to build his recent record of two goals in as many games and he was able to do so on sixty two minutes. He linked up well with Paquetá and put the ball past Leno to edge the hosts ahead.
Both managers made substitutions on seventy one minutes, with Moyes switching his two strikers as Antonio once again replaced Scamacca, while Silva introduced Tom Cairney in place of Harrison Reed.
Fulham were still not out of the contest however and could have levelled the scores. Cairney was straight into the action and almost made the desired impact but the home fans were thankful to Cresswell who made a crucial block.
Moyes and Silva changed personnel again just six minutes later. Palmieri entered the fray for the hosts and he took the place of fellow Brazilian Paquetá, while the former Watford and Everton boss brought on Harry Wilson and Josh Onomah for James and Pereira.
Three minutes of stoppage time were signalled and before those were over, there was time the scoreline to change again. Antonio took advantage of a defensive mixup between visiting Captain Tim Ream and Leno to seal the points.
Immediately after that goal, Moyes made another change, bringing on Downes for Fornals.
It’s been a good week for the East Londoners and they will hope it continues, as they meet RSC Anderlecht again on Thursday night.