West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen strikes twice to extend Norwich misery at the bottom
David Moyes believes Jarrod Bowen is pushing for an England call and there have certainly been worse ideas. Norwich could not get near the forward here; he was on a mission to score from the outset and, while goals towards the end of each half were sufficient, he could have added several more.
A third straight win consigns West Ham’s December wobble to history and returns them to fourth place for now but their opponents, whose uptick under Dean Smith is a yet more remote memory, show no sign of a meaningful fight against relegation.
Smith knew Norwich, hurtling towards the last-chance saloon after emerging from their last five league games goalless and pointless, needed to try something different so began with Adam Idah alongside Teemu Pukki in attack.
The attack-minded Milot Rashica and Przemyslaw Placheta were deployed out wide; it smacked of acknowledgement that wins must arrive immediately but the risk of exposure in their own half was clear.
The point was proved within two minutes when Bowen, found by a cute Manuel Lanzini pass, shot firmly but straight at Tim Krul. It was a decent chance and smart work from Lanzini, who started alongside Declan Rice in a deeper role after Tomas Soucek tested positive for Covid-19. He received a sight of his own, lifting over from 20 yards, before briefly causing his own side alarm on the quarter-hour when requiring treatment for a knock.
By then Norwich had subjected West Ham’s back line, which included a newly fit Aaron Cresswell after six weeks out, to some light examination. Idah offered encouragement with a couple of bursts but they remained vulnerable to Bowen’s darts inside from the right.
The hosts controlled play without mustering the intensity, at that point, to suggest a breakthrough was close. They were denied a chance to find it in the 24th minute, though, when Tim Krul ended up inside his own net as he grappled with Nikola Vlasic at a corner.
Play continued and, when the ball went dead, Krul was quick to direct his anger at the referee Simon Hooper. Krul had actually appeared more sinner than sinned against: Vlasic had been blocking him but the keeper clearly hauled him down by the neck. Penalties have been awarded for far less.
It mattered little. West Ham’s pressure ramped up and their lead, when it came, was deserved. Bowen had seen a goal disallowed when his cross sailed beyond Krul only for an offside Vlasic to correctly be deemed interfering; back he came, though, and the one that counted was deftly taken. Vladimir Coufal retrieved an overhit Cresswell cross and delivered delicately for Bowen to glance home, receiving the reward he had threatened since the start. As is customary, Norwich had been breached all too easily.
Vlasic sought a spot-kick again shortly after the restart when Max Aarons appeared to tug his shorts as the winger dashed past. Nothing was given but West Ham had begun the second half as they ended the first, Michail Antonio turning Grant Hanley six yards out before blasting over and beating the ground in frustration.
Pablo Fornals had created that chance and, in the 57th minute, he sent Bowen clear. Bowen clipped over Krul but struck the top of the bar; five minutes later he hit the base of a post from an angle and, as the minutes ticked away, Norwich were somehow still in the game.
They almost levelled from nowhere when Idah danced inside before thudding a strike that Lukasz Fabianski tipped onto his right-hand post.
It was their one chance. Bowen then flicked in Arthur Masuaku’s low centre, the goal awarded after a VAR check, to push his England claim further.