West Ham into the Champions League spots after Sheffield United victory

West Ham comfortably beat Sheffield United 3-0 at the London Stadium to jump to fourth place in the Premier League table. The Hammers completed the double over 20th placed Sheffield thanks to goals from Declan Rice, Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks.

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West Ham were without star man Michail Antonio after the Englishman failed a late fitness, leaving West Ham without a recognized striker. The Hammers were also without Angelo Ogbonna, Andriy Yarmolenko, Darren Randolph and long-term absentee Arthur Masuaku.

Ben Johnson’s fine performance earned him a place in the starting lineup following Moyes’ decision to revert to a back five. Youngsters Jamal Baptiste and Conor Coventry were called up to the bench following the first team injuries.

West Ham came into the game looking to climb into a Champions League place despite a disappointing goalless draw at Fulham whereas Sheffield United were looking to keep up their recent revival of form and hoping to overtake 19th place West Brom.

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It was West Ham that had the first chance of the game very early on with Declan Rice’s low driven freekick being forced away by Aaron Ramsdale. The Hammers then thought they had then won their first penalty on the season when Craig Dawson latched on to the rebound and was brought down by Enda Stevens.

However, West Ham’s joy was short-lived when VAR correctly reversed the decision due to Dawson being in an offside position.

Sheffield United instantly retaliated and should have opened the scoring in the 8th minute after David McGoldrick latched onto a great cross but sent his effort well over the crossbar.

West Ham started to take more control of the game with Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini all linking up well to cause Sheffield’s backline problems.

It was Lingard who gave Ramsdale another test after Lanzini found the Manchester United loanee in space on the right-hand side of the box. However, the 28-year-olds low curling effort was easily smothered by the former Bournemouth keeper.

West Ham kept up the pressure and created another good chance to take the lead through Lingard in the 24th minute.

Rice started the counter-attack with a perfect long through ball that found the Englishman in acres of space but Lingard ran the ball wide and made the angle too tight for himself which resulted in his effort going out for a corner.

West Ham’s pressure paid off in the 38th minute when Lingard stole back possession and played Bowen on the counter-attack. The former Hull talisman then returned the favour and sent Lingard through on goal, only for the number 11 to be wiped out by Chris Basham giving the referee no choice but to give West Ham their first proper penalty of the season.

Despite the protests of Lingard, it was Captain Rice who stepped up to the mark and fired his first goal of the season into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 to West Ham just before halftime.

 

The first action of the second half came in the 52nd minute when McGoldrick came close to levelling the scores when his deflected header forced a superb reactionary save from Lukasz Fabianski.

But despite Sheffield’s early chances, West Ham made them pay in the 59th minute when Issa Diop powered home Aaron Cresswell’s well-delivered corner to double West Ham’s lead and score his side’s 13th goal from set-pieces.

Falling 2-0 behind didn’t seems to deflate Chris Wilder’s men and they came close to halving the deficit. It was McGoldrick again who should have put the ball in the back of Fabianski’s net but his effort was deflected over the crossbar again following a great challenge from Issa Diop.

The Blades didn’t give up and came close again in the 68th minute through McGoldrick but the Ireland international fired his free-header straight at the West Ham keeper. It just simply wasn’t his night.

West Ham fought back from Sheffield’s pressure and nearly added a third through Vladimir Coufal. The Czech international won possession back in Sheffield United’s half and powered into the box but his effort was superbly saved by Ramsdale.

Just when it seemed like the game would end fizzle out to an uneventful end, substitute Ryan Fredericks popped up in the box and fired a low effort into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 to West Ham with the last kick of the game.

The win has fired West Ham into a Champions League spot despite Moyes’ current striker issues and it will set the Hammers up nicely as they now go into a challenging run of fixtures against the likes of Spurs, City and Manchester United.

If Moyes can get Antonio back to full fitness for those games, West Ham will surely be in contention for Champions League qualification.