David Moyes paid tribute to West Ham’s two-goal hero Mohammed Kudus after their 3-0 win over Wolves and admitted his upcoming absence will be “a huge blow”.
Kudus will link up with Ghana for the Africa Cup of Nations next month and could miss up to nine matches if the Hammers continue to progress in both domestic cup competitions.
The £38million summer recruit took his goal tally for West Ham to nine with a classy first-half brace that set the hosts on their way to a comprehensive seventh victory from their last nine games.
“One of the radio (journalists) said, ‘How hard is Kudus working, how hard defensively is he doing the work,’ and I have to say Kudus is doing all the work for us as well,” Moyes said.
“A really good boy to work with and obviously his goals and assists are really the things that are standing out.
“It is a huge blow (to lose him) because he scores goals and makes goals. We’re going to have to find other ways.
“I have to say, we will hugely miss him.”
Kudus rifled home from 25 yards with his left foot in the 22nd minute after collecting Lucas Paqueta’s pass following a Wolves corner before he doubled his tally 10 minutes later.
Another counter-attack saw Paqueta’s through-ball left by Jarrod Bowen and Kudus collected the pass before he raced into the area and side-footed into the corner.
Bowen wrapped up the result with a smart low finish in the 74th minute to move into double figures for the season, but Wolves were left to rue Pablo Sarabia’s 58th-minute effort being ruled out.
A slick team move ended with Nelson Semedo finding Sarabia for a simple tap-in. However, VAR Jarred Gillett eventually decided the visiting attacker had been marginally offside following a three-minute check.
Moyes said: “A marginal VAR decision went in our favour and this is what happens in the Premier League. It could have turned in Wolves favour.
“They had started the second half much better and we didn’t, but that decision went for us and from that we got another counter-attack moment and were able to punish them.”
Wolves boss Gary O’Neil cut a frustrated figure throughout the 3-0 loss and, while he had little complaint over the decision to rule out Sarabia’s effort, he did express his bemusement at some of Vladimir Coufal’s challenges.
Coufal caught Jean-Ricner Bellegarde with a blow to the face at the end of the first half but avoided a yellow card before he did eventually get cautioned late on for a poor tackle on the same player.
O’Neil said: “Over the course of the game, I think his (Coufal) challenges warrant two yellows at least.
“I think the fact he wasn’t even booked for the one in the first half was strange.
“I don’t want to complain about the officials or VAR because it seemed all fine and it’s not what I’m here to do.
“Just disappointed the goal is deemed fractionally offside. Hard to tell and obviously we have to trust the fact the lines are correct, even though I will be pleased when they bring in the (semi) automated ones.
“Live it looked maybe just about offside, but disappointing because it was a big moment and a fantastic move.”