You score. You take a seat. You bask in your brilliance. The Mohammed Kudus celebration.
Tricky to copy on the playground, what with the lack of advertising boards to sit on. But you can bet the schoolkids in the East End of London will find a way because Kudus is quickly becoming a new favourite of West Ham’s fans, a forward full of speed and silkiness.
Twice we saw Lucas Paqueta play piercing passes in behind Wolves. Twice we saw Kudus pick up possession. Twice we saw him score before making a beeline for the away end.
As has become his trademark, Kudus celebrated by sitting in front of the opposition supporters. There is no shortage of cheekiness to go with his clinical finishing and Paqueta joined the 23-year-old Ghanian on both occasions, with their blossoming bromance lifting West Ham to seventh in the Premier League ahead of Manchester United’s meeting with Liverpool.
Watching Kudus, it is hard not to think that Erik ten Hag signed the wrong Ajax winger. Kudus is now on nine goals and one assist in all competitions this season since joining West Ham at a cost of £38million. Antony is on zero and zero for his £86m fee.
Mohammed Kudus scored twice in the first half as West Ham beat Wolves 3-0 on Sunday
Lucas Paqueta set up both of West Ham’s first-half goals, taking winger Kudus to nine goals
Jarrod Bowen completed the commanding win, leaving West Ham boss David Moyes thrilled
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Paqueta went on to register a third assist, securing his hat-trick by setting up Jarrod Bowen to complete this commanding win.
Manager David Moyes said of the 26-year-old Brazilian: ‘I’m not someone who likes giving too much leeway to any of my players but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised when you have that talent you have to let them flourish.’
On Kudus, who West Ham will lose to the Africa Cup of Nations next month, Moyes added: ‘That is a huge blow. His goals and assists are what are standing out. But defensively, he is doing all the work for us.’
Gary O’Neil’s Wolves had scored in every Premier League game this season except for their opening-day 1-0 defeat by Manchester United, but they struggled to break down West Ham.
Although O’Neil was booked for complaining about West Ham’s players getting away with aggressive behaviour – including one nasty-looking elbow from Vladimir Coufal on Jean-Ricner Bellegarde – he did not want to make excuses for this loss.
‘Disastrous decision-making,’ O’Neil said of the goals they conceded. ‘We gifted it to West Ham. I received the yellow. That’s two now, so I need to be on my best behaviour.’
There was one fan in the home end with a cardboard sign which read: ‘Came all the way from Hong Kong to see Jarrod Bowen.’ That individual nearly saw him curl a corner directly in with Wolves goalkeeper Dan Bentley, filling in for the injured Jose Sa, nudging it behind.
West Ham took the lead after 22 minutes and, much to O’Neil’s fury, it came from a Wolves corner.
The ball was whipped into the box and headed by Craig Dawson but Emerson cleared before Paqueta countered at speed. His pass into Kudus was perfect as he cut inside before drilling the ball beyond Bentley from 25 yards for 1-0.
There were 17.5 seconds between Wolves taking their corner and West Ham scoring their opener, as Kudus celebrated in front of the away end.
Pablo Sarabia thought he had given Wolves a lifeline, but it was ruled out by VAR for offside
Wolves goalkeeper Daniel Bentley did not cover himself in glory at the London Stadium
It was deja vu in the 32nd minute when West Ham made it 2-0. Zouma won the ball in the build-up before Paqueta played yet another pass into Kudus. He drove forward and beat Bentley, celebrating in front of the Wolves’ fans all over again.
Bowen hoped for a penalty when he was sandwiched by Maximilian Kilman and Joao Gomes, but he was soon back on his feet to send a shot crashing against the post before the break.
Wolves’ fans were frustrated on the hour mark when they thought they had made it 2-1 as Nelson Semedo’s ball into the six-yard box was buried by Pablo Sarabia. VAR Jarred Gillett started studying whose toe was furthest forward and, after a lengthy wait, Sarabia was deemed offside.
Gary O’Neil’s game plan with Wolves now uses ball-carriers to be more direct in attacking
‘F*** VAR,’ sang the away support, before adding: ‘Premier League, corrupt as f***.’
In the 74th minute, that fan with the cardboard sign got what they wanted as Bowen made it 3-0. Tomas Soucek won the ball in midfield before Bowen played a one-two with Paqueta, applying the finish into the far corner. Yet again, Wolves had been done on the turnover.
In the 80th minute, James Ward-Prowse stood over a 35-yard free-kick, having previously scored from this distance for Southampton against Wolves. This time, it flew down the wrong side of the post. He will remain on 17 career free-kicks in the Premier League, one shy of David Beckham’s record of 18, though he will keep trying his luck.
In the 87th minute, Kudus and Paqueta were substituted by Moyes. Their work was done. This had been an afternoon in the company of two experts in creativity, and how West Ham hope they will torment Liverpool in their Carabao Cup quarter-final this Wednesday as much as they did Wolves.