|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham’s Michail Antonio is the history boy in defeat of Bournemouth
Jacob Steinberg at the London Stadium
Date Published Sunday 21 August 2016 18.07 BST
The camera lingered on Michail Antonio in the moments before kick-off, searching for any signs of stress or apprehension on his face. Antonio, after all, endured a night of torture during West Ham’s defeat to Chelsea last week, clumsily giving away a penalty before storming down the tunnel after being substituted by Slaven Bilic, and there was every chance that he would be the story again.
Perhaps it was not a surprise to see Antonio smile after he spotted the cameraman hovering nearby, however, given that he was back in his favourite position on the wing after struggling so badly as a right-back at Stamford Bridge. And confirmation that this was to be a tale of redemption for a player with a big heart arrived when a reminder of his goalscoring instincts punctured the growing tension at West Ham’s new home.
There were five minutes remaining when Antonio settled a dreary contest against a strangely subdued Bournemouth, leaping imperiously at the far post to meet Gokhan Tore’s cross, and a goal that rarely looked as though it was on the cards ensured that Bilic’s side tasted victory in their first Premier League fixture at the London Stadium.
This was a crucial win for West Ham, bearing in mind that the absence of seven players forced them to reach deep into their reserves of togetherness and spirit in order to find a way past Bournemouth. They huffed and puffed without reward for long spells and ultimately a game that was desperately lacking in entertainment in front of a crowd of 57,000 hinged on the moment when Eddie Howe’s lacklustre side were reduced to 10 men when Harry Arter was sent off with 13 minutes left.
Howe had no complaints about the dismissal, admitting that the midfielder had been foolish to argue with the referee’s decision after being penalised for handball in the first half. The Football Association has introduced new rules regarding dissent and the midfielder paid the price when he brought an illegal end to a surge from Cheikhou Kouyaté in the second half. “We are well aware that dissent will be a yellow card,” Bournemouth’s manager said. “That’s the one that burns. I have drilled it into them.”
Bournemouth had been comfortable with 11 men, restricting West Ham to few clear opportunities, but they were ragged after losing Arter. Bilic sensed they were vulnerable, reacting by introducing Ashley Fletcher alongside Jonathan Calleri in attack, and the breakthrough arrived when Tore hung a fine cross towards the far post. Charlie Daniels was no match for Antonio, who bullied the left-back before powering a header past Artur Boruc.
“It was good for him, a great moment for the club,” Bilic said. “It was also very important for him because of the mistake he made against Chelsea. It’s a game of mistakes. That was more mentality, that you can’t do at this level. That mistake had nothing to do with the position he played.”
Despite his defensive limitations, Bilic had persisted with using Antonio as a right-back until the Chelsea game. The experiment has produced mixed results and West Ham were more solid with Antonio further forward and Sam Byram in defence. Bilic, however, wants his players to put the team first.
“It’s not democracy, it’s more important what the team requires,” West Ham’s manager said. “Rule number one is you have to be humble and sacrifice for your team. He did it last year. It’s going to be mixed. He would probably be a good centre forward because of his pace. But he’s going to play where the team needs [him].”
What pleased Bilic most about this win was that it was achieved without their most incisive attackers. Sofiane Feghouli is not expected to return until after the international break and Dimitri Payet was unavailable after failing a fitness test because of a minor knock.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
West Ham (4-3-3): Adrian 7; Byram 6, Reid 6, Collins 6, Masuaku 6; Nordtveit 6 (Fletcher 80), Noble 7, Kouyate 7; Tore 7 (Obiang 89), Valencia 6 (Calleri 63 6), Antonio 7.5
Subs not used: Randolph, Ogbonna, Burke, Oxford
Manager: Slaven Bilic 7
Booked: Byram, Reid, Obiang
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Boruc 6; Smith 6, Francis 6, Cook 6, Daniel 6; Surman 6, Arter 4.5; Ibe 6 (Ake 79), King 6, Fraser 6 (Gosling 86); Wilson 6 (Grabban 74 6)
Subs not used: Federici, B Smith, Gradel, Afobe
Manager: Eddie Howe 5
Booked: Arter, Cook
Referee: Craig Pawson 6.5
Stadium: Olympic Stadium