London called for the third time this season for Steve Cooper’s Reds, looking to pick up their first points in the capital since January 2022 against Millwall. Rumours were circulating this could be Hammers’ manager Davis Moyes’ last game at the helm should his side lose, as they aimed to pick up just their second win in their last 12 Premier League matches.
On the back of an inspiring draw against Manchester City, Cooper made two changes to his side, bringing in goalscorer Chris Wood and right-back Neco Williams. Danny Ings made his first start in a West Ham jersey, replacing ex-Forest striker Michael Antonio, with danger man Jarrod Bowen also fielded.
West Ham had the better of things in the opening stages and hit the woodwork with 10 minutes played. Declan Rice delivered a corner which Keylor Navas parried, only to the feet of Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta. His effort deflected off Ings and Felipe as it agonisingly bruised the post before going behind.
Forest found a goal-scoring chance through centre-back Felipe three minutes later, who after a deep Shelvey free-kick, saw Lukasz Fabianski tip his goal bound attempt over the crossbar.
Both teams looked rather average in the first half but it was West Ham who looked the more likely to score, in a fixture that has provided 23 goals in the last seven meetings between the sides.
Morgan Gibbs-White had Forest’s best chance of the half with 21 minutes gone when Navas picked out Johnson on halfway. The Welshman skipped past his namesake Ben before bolting down the wing and picking out Gibbs-White on the edge of the box, with the midfielder turning down options to his left and shooting; meat and drink for Fabianski.
West Ham surged forward from this move and should have had their noses in front a minute later. Wing-back Vladimir Coufal was given too much time to cross on the right wing, picking out Ings in the box. Ings got ahead of his marker but planted his header well wide of Navas’ near post, a poor close-range effort.
From this point neither side threatened the other and the remainder of the half would be something to forget, with both managers surely looking to liven their troops up for the second half.
After the break, the visitors came out the better and spurned two big chances to take the lead on 55 minutes. Firstly, Bowen was able to saunter infield unmarked and send a right-footed shot towards goal, with his strike from the edge of the box hitting the inside of the post. The Hammer’s maintained possession though until Paqueta unleashed from a similar range, his attempt flying over the crossbar.
This miss seemed to spur the visitors on as they went to have their best spell of the game after the two misses. As rain teemed down in East London, Brennan Johnson sprinted down the right wing just before the hour before being shown the inside by defender Angelo Ogbonna. Johnson let fly on his left foot but his shot ended up in the Trevor Brooking Stand.
Forest’s momentum would be killed by a lengthy stoppage as goalkeeper Fabianski was replaced, a game-changing moment.
That was because from the restart, West Ham broke forward and took the lead on 70 minutes. Bowen collected the ball right wing and drove into Forest’s box before sending a scuffed ball across goal. The best strikers just know where to be and in the absence of any Forest defenders, Danny Ings was there to tap home from five yards.
Regroup and go again. Exactly what Forest didn’t do from kick-off, falling further behind just seconds after the restart.
This time they attacked down their left wing, with Paqueta finding Algerian winger Saïd Benrahma who had a run through Forest’s defence. After hitting the byline, he crossed square and Ings was there once again to guide home from even closer range.
The floodgates were open, and West Ham grabbed their third through skipper Rice with 12 minutes to play. Rice played a neat one-two with Benrahma on the left, with Forest very slow to close the pair down. This meant Rice had time and space to cut inside, set himself and whip a beautiful shot high into the top right corner from the edge of the box. Three goals in eight minutes, no one inside the London Stadium could quite believe it.
However, it wouldn’t be three for long, as the hosts sealed the deal with a fourth, five minutes from time. Substitutes combined for this one, with Aaron Cresswell linking up with Pablo Fornals on the left touchline, with the latter able to lift a cross up to the back stick. Having replaced double goalscorer Ings, Antonio just had to join in on the goal scoring action, rising highest to powerfully head home for 4-0.
A spineless Forest defence were well and truly put to the sword by a rampant West Ham side, leaving the Reds to once again hope their home form can carry them over the line in their next fixture against Everton.
Cooper said: “It was horrible after the first goal and for that we’ve only got ourselves to blame. West Ham had some territory and set pieces in the first half but I didn’t feel like we were any under great threat.
“In the second half we made some changes that we felt we could continue the little bit of momentum that we had but then what happened between the first goal and the third goal was unacceptable in so many ways.
“We were disappointed to let them go 1-0 up but what happened after that was incredible. The decision making, game management and lack of desire to stay in the game is something that is difficult to comprehend at the moment.
“We’ve only got ourselves to blame, we have to accept it for what it was which was obviously so poor in many ways and we have to get back to the training ground and deal with it.”