West Ham move back up to fifth place in the Premier League after goals from Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson helped the Hammers complete their first league double over Leeds United since 1954.
West Ham came into the game needing to win to get back into Champions League contention after falling out of the top four due to other results. The Hammers were the inform team and had gathered 10 points from their last five games compared to Leeds’ six points from five.
West Ham were without Goalkeeper Darren Randolph and Ryan Fredericks for their Monday night clash with the pair picking up issues during training. The Hammers were still missing long term absentees Arthur Masuaku, Andriy Yarmolenko and Angelo Ogbonna.
Leeds United were boosted by the return of captain Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo from injury, with the latter scoring two goals in an under-23s game on Friday.
David Moyes would have been happy to have Lukasz Fabianski back in goal as he helped preserve West Ham’s clean sheet with some brilliant saves.
Leeds caught West Ham napping early on and thought they had got off to a blistering start when Tyler Roberts slotted home a clever cut-back from Helder Costa in the 6th minute. However, the Portuguese winger was deemed offside by VAR in what was the tightest of margins, letting the Hammers off the hook.
The hosts then had another close call just minutes later when Raphinha’s late cut back was cleverly finished by the inform Patrick Bamford, only for the goal to be chalked off again due to the ball going out of play.
West Ham started to grow into the game and they had their first sight at goal in the 17th minute when Tomas Soucek headed Michail Antonio’s cross wide of Illan Meslier’s goal.
The Hammers seemed to take confidence from the turn in momentum and it soon resulted in West Ham’s first major chance of opening the scoring when Luke Ayling brought Lingard down in the box. The challenge left Mike Dean no chance but to point to the spot, giving West Ham only their second spot-kick of the season.
After consulting Captain Declan Rice, it was Lingard who stepped up to take the penalty. The Manchester United loanee saw his effort initially saved by the young Leeds goalkeeper but the 28-year-old kept his cool and slotted home the rebound to give West Ham a 1-0 lead.
The goal swung the momentum of the game completely in West Ham’s favour with Moyes’ men dominating possession and hardly giving Leeds a kick of the ball. As a result, the Hammers then grabbed their second of the game when Dawson strolled unmarked through the Leeds box and headed home Aaron Cresswell’s corner in the 28th minute to make it 2-0 to West Ham.
After the second goal, West Ham took complete control of the game and the Hammers came close to a third through Said Benrahma in the 37th minute but the Algerian’s long-range effort was pushed wide by Meslier.
West Ham United
West Ham were denied a third goal by the post just before halftime when Dawson rose the highest to meet Cresswell’s corner but sent his headed effort crashing off the woodwork in what would be the last effort of the first half.
Marcelo Bielsa had seemingly seen enough in the first half and decided to make two changes at halftime, bringing on Jack Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski for Costa and Mateusz Klich.
The changes seemed to effect Leeds almost immediately with the away side starting the second half brightly. The Yorkshire club should have instantly pulled a goal back when Diego Llorente played Bamford clean through on goal only for the Englishman to send his effort wide of the post.
Bielsa’s side again came close in the 49th minute when Raphinha’s deflected overhead kick forced Lukasz Fabianski into a rare save. West Ham started to switch back on and retaliated almost immediately when Pablo Fornals smashed a long-range effort off the crossbar.
The quick start to the second half from both sides set an end-to-end tone to the game with both sides showcasing their attacking qualities. Rice and Raphinha both came close to scoring for their sides just minutes apart but both Fabianski and Meslier pulled off great saves to deny the duo.
Despite terrorizing Leeds’ backline, Benrahma brought off in the 72nd minute for Jarrod Bowen meaning the former Brentford man would have to wait another day for his first West Ham goal.
Leeds again could of and should have pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when Raphinha’s cut-back found Bamford free in the box but the Englishman smashed his effort over the crossbar from close range.
It just wouldn’t work for Leeds’ and their night was summed up when substitute Rodrigo came inches away from opening the Lilywhites account only for his effort to be heroically blocked on the line by the man of the match Dawson in the 85th minute.
The final whistle came minutes later and it left Leeds ruing all their missed opportunities. The win has sent the high-flying Hammers back up to 5th place in the Premier League while still having a game in hand on the top four.
West Ham travel to Old Trafford on Sunday to face Manchester United and Moyes’ men will be hoping to carry their winning form up to Manchester as they look to get revenge on the Red Devils for knocking them out of the FA cup.