Jesse Lingard has the last laugh as West Ham can’t buy a goal in frustrating defeat to Nottingham Forest

It has certainly been the case at times and when Hammers boss David Moyes reviews this game, he will wonder how his team left the City Ground with nothing.

In the 90 minutes, the Hammers did everything but score. They had a goal ruled out by VAR, hit the crossbar twice, missed a penalty and also had an effort cleared from the line.

It was not a smashing performance from Forest, however, who, backed by a boisterous home crowd, held firm. At times in the first half they were excellent, playing direct and quick football with Brennan Johnson and Taiwo Awoniyi proving a handful up front.

It was the latter who scored the game’s only goal, returning the ball a few yards after Jesse Lingard’s scuffed shot was blocked.

It will no doubt have pleased Lingard after West Ham fans marked their reunion with him by throwing fake pound notes onto the City Ground pitch.

But West Ham couldn’t buy a goal all afternoon and, although it was a dream day for Forest and one that will live long in their memory, it was a day to forget for the Hammers.

The game turned shortly before half-time, when West Ham thought they were leading 1-0, but instead took the break behind.

A slick West Ham counter saw Said Benrahma clear through but, after driving the ball home, VAR spotted that Michail Antonio had burst into Orel Mangala in the build-up.

Moments later Forest were in front as Awoniyi kicked the ball in from yards to clear the roof off the City Ground.

On the record of the first 45 minutes, it was probably what the hosts deserved for their attacking intent, but in the second half they had to dig deep.

Fornals hit the crossbar with an effort, then Benrahma did the same around the hour mark from a free kick. No one could guess how it hadn’t happened, with half of the West Ham squad clutching their hands to their heads in disbelief.

Benrahma was the Hammers’ best player and if they scored he felt like he would be involved. It certainly seemed to be the case when in the 65th minute he leapt down the left and joined Tomas Soucek. The goal was gaping, but Scott McKenna cleared it off the line with his arm.

Declan Rice, so often the hero for the Hammers last season, seized the ball but his penalty was saved by Dean Henderson. Confirmation, if ever needed, that it would not be West Ham’s day.

In the final 10 minutes West Ham threw the kitchen sink at Forest, with new boys Gianluca Scamacca and Maxwel Cornet arriving. It was Kurt Zouma, however, who went the closest as Neco Williams came back to clear his header from the line. Another defining moment of a day that most certainly belonged to Forest. The 23 year wait was worth it.

standard Sport

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