West Ham survived an early onslaught of Leeds United goals scored, and negated, to aid their top-four push with a hugely important 2-0 victory at the London Stadium on Monday.
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The victory pushes David Moyes’ West Ham back into 5th place in the Premier League table, just two points behind Chelsea, with a game in hand.
Leeds, on the other hand, remain 11th in the Premier League and are nine points clear of the relegation zone with 11 games left to play.
3 things we learned: West Ham – Leeds
1. West Ham where they are on merit: The Hammers haven’t been beaten by any side not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool since the opening two weeks of the season, when they were beaten by Newcastle and Arsenal. Last time out for them was the narrow defeat to Man City, and Monday demonstrated a strong mentality which has routinely allowed them to bounce back from setbacks at the first time of asking. West Ham’s run of results without back-to-back defeats also dates back to matchweeks 1 and 2.
After 27 games in the 2019/20 season: 𝟭𝟴𝘁𝗵, 𝟮𝟰 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀
After 27 games in the 2020/21 season: 𝟱𝘁𝗵, 𝟰𝟴 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) March 8, 2021
2. Lingard finds happy home with Hammers: Nobody is loving life more than Jesse Lingard these days, thanks to the new lease on life he received upon moving to West Ham on loan in January. Monday’s goal makes it four goals (plus an assist) in six games (all starts) for the Hammers. After making three appearances (totaling 179 minutes) for Manchester United earlier in the season, Lingard will almost certainly look to make his move south a permanent one and continue starring for David Moyes.
3. Leeds start brightly, quickly crumble: Here’s the thing about Leeds: they’re tough to play against because they’re full of energy and never stop forcing the issue, but that only works as a standalone strategy when they’re on level terms or ahead on the scoreboard. They’re ruthless in their ability to finish games, if they can score first. Monday’s game was just about the worst possible sequence of events for Bielsa’s boys, and the result was effectively cemented after 28 minutes.
this is the perfect leeds experience
1) score 2 goals in first 8 minutes, both are taken away for offside and out of play (by a combined 5 inches)
2) concede 2 goals in 8 minutes not long later, game over bc they're ill-equipped to beat anyone that doesn't attack them wide open
— Andy Edwards (@AndyEdMLS) March 8, 2021
Leeds had the ball in the back of the net in the 6th minute, but the goal was wiped away with Helder Costa offside by a couple inches in the build-up. The initial entry pass was touched ever so slightly by Patrick Bamford before it reached Costa, who played it back to Tyler Roberts for the finish.
Mere seconds after the restart, it was Bamford who again finished a well-worked chance for Leeds, only to have it taken away as well. The ball was deemed to have narrowly crossed the end line before Raphinha reached it and crossed for Bamford at the near post.
Leeds’ brilliant start was completely undone in the 20th minute, when Luke Ayling tripped Jesse Lingard amid a shifty, slaloming run through the penalty area. Lingard stepped to the penalty spot and slotted home the rebound after Illan Meslier made the save but couldn’t hold onto the ball.
West Ham’s lead was 2-0 just before the half-hour mark, as Craig Dawson sent a diving header home from Aaron Cresswell’s corner kick.
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Bamford had a wonderful opportunity to halve the deficit in the 48th minute, but Leeds’ leading scorer (13 goals this season) curled his finish wide of the far post after timing his run in behind the West Ham defense perfectly as Diego Llorente played him in on goal.
The 77th minute was another one to forget for Bamford, who had a pair of looks to put a shot on target, but managed to skew the first shot miles before sending a follow-up effort miles over the crossbar. Both shots were attempted from inside 10 yards and perfectly summarized Leeds’ luck on the day.
But, of course, there was more agony to come for Leeds in the 86th minute, as Vladimir Coufal nearly poked the ball into his own goal from four yards out, but Dawson was in the right place at the right time to boot it clear.