West Ham essentially sealed European qualification with a gutsy comeback win at West Brom.
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The Hammers trailed early on as Matheus Pereira’s corner kick flicked of Tomas Soucek went into this own net, but then Soucek tapped home the equalizer at the right end.
Late on Angelo Ogbonna towered a header home and then Michail Antonio made sure in stoppage time, as David Moyes’ side took a huge step towards the Europa League as they have 62 points, three points ahead of Tottenham and Everton.
A point on the final day of the season at home against Southampton will seal sixth place in the table. If they lose, they could slip to eighth but both Tottenham and Everton would have to win and there would have to be a big swing in goal difference. If they finish seventh, they will play in the Europa Conference League.
Dust off your passport, Moyesy…
Three things we learned
1. Moyes manager of year candidate: Nobody, absolutely nobody, expected this from West Ham this season. After just escaping relegation last season, the Hammers have been so consistent this campaign. They have found a way to get wins, have talented individuals working together and Moyes has created a real team unit. His achievement of taking West Ham to Europe equals, if not betters, Pep Guardiola’s Man City winning the league. Talk about getting the best out of your resources. They keep digging deep each week and are horrible to play against. Just the way Moyes likes it.
2. Baggies battled hard: Sam Allardyce’s side probably deserved from this. They huffed and puffed in the first half and created a lot of chances, but they didn’t take enough of them. That sums up their season. Big Sam announced after the game that he will step down this summer and defended his coaching style in an emotional post-game interview. Even though he won’t be around, you can guarantee that West Brom will be right at the top of the Championship next season. Even if they lose players, they have enough quality to push for promotion.
3. Attacking options aplenty for Hammers: From Said Benrahma to Antonio and Jesse Lingard to Pablo Fornals, there was so much variety in the West Ham attack. They had Jarrod Bowen and Andriy Yarmolenko on the bench, sold Sebastian Haller midseason, plus Manuel Lanzini was out. West Ham have conceded a lot of goals this season and we have probably overlooked the fact they have scored 59 goals, the same amount as Leeds. Moyes has a lot of great attacking options to unleash.
Man of the Match: Michail Antonio – Won a penalty kick early, scored a counter attacking goal late and led the line superbly.
West Ham should have got off to the perfect start as Michail Antonio raced clear and went around West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone who collided with him and won a penalty kick.
However, Rice’s spot kick hit the post and came back out as the Hammers coughed up a glorious opportunity to take the lead.
Said Benrahma’s strike was tipped over by Johnstone, as West Ham continued to look dangerous. After losing goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the warm up, Darren Randolph did okay and punched away a high ball after good work from Conor Gallagher.
Matheus Pereira flashed a shot wide as West Brom responded well to their slow start and the Hammers were soon behind.
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Pereira whipped in a corner to the near post and Soucek flicked a header into his own net as it beat Randolph and went in. Randolph then denied Pereira with a fine save and Robson-Kanu’s shot was deflected wide.
Right on half time West Ham drew level as Soucek tapped home at the back post, and the goal stood after a lengthy VAR check.
At the start of the second half Randolph then pushed away another in-swinging corner from Pereira and then made a big stop from Semi Ajayi as West Brom poured forward.
Antonio came so close to flicking home Soucek’s header from a corner, while West Brom caused problems at the other end, and then Cresswell hit the post with a free kick.
But then came the late surge.
Ogbonna powered home a header to push West Ham in front, then Antonio finished off a fine counter to put some extra gloss on a win which will send them to Europe. Hammers fans, get the Champagne on ice.