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  • Julian Taylor at the London Stadium

Battling Burnley deny West Ham to claim a precious point at the London Stadium

West Ham United 1 Burnley 1

Julian Taylor at the London Stadium

West Ham were forced to accept a share of the spoils in a tense clash against struggling Burnley at the London Stadium.

The new Europa League semi finalists lacked drive and fluency throughout a game in which they never really convinced, as the relegation-threatened Clarets, under new, temporary management, came away worthy of a point.

David Moyes’s side were still feeling obvious side-effects of their midweek Europa League exertions – and while they merit all the praise for a fantastic quarter final win in Lyon, an unsophisticated leveller in the second half by Tomas Soucek cancelled out a 32nd minute header by Wout Weghorst.

Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet also missed a penalty, before an afternoon of impressive resilience. They recovered well from a worrying first half injury to Ashley Westwood, who took a bad ankle knock, requiring extensive treatment on the pitch.

Although West Ham finished strongly, their finishing proved to all too wayward and a draw proved to be a reasonably fair outcome.

The visitors were in the headlines for, arguably, all the wrong reasons with their shock sacking of Sean Dyche. Burnley’s manager – the longest-serving in the Premier League – has finally departed the club who are battling to survive in the top tier, a move which has attracted widespread criticism.

A sunny Easter Sunday in east London carried a few possibilities for the Clarets, who hoped that the Hammers would have a lingering physical hangover from their superb raid in France on Thursday night. And with a place in the top four increasingly remote, West Ham, in seventh, appear to be understandably going all in for the Europa League.

Clarets’ scramble

It was a nervous Burnley, under the temporary charge of Under 23 boss Mike Jackson, at the start of the encounter as West Ham applied themselves. Jarrod Bowen was denied a couple of times by, firstly, a terrific save by Nick Pope before another effort was scrambled off the line.

More serious matters followed, though. In the 23rd minute, play was stopped after Westwood clashed with West Ham’s Nikola Vlasic, resulting in the Burnley midfielder receiving lengthy treatment from numerous medical staff, as well the scene of a couple of spectators taking ill moments later. The on-field incident left Vlasic distraught amid an accidental challenge leaving the stadium muted, before Westwood was eventually stretchered off.

Josh Brownhill was subsequently sent on by Jackson as a replacement. More importantly, Westwood visibly recovered to reassure anxious fans, particularly the wedge who had travelled to the capital from Lancashire.

Those supporters were soon heartened, however, when Burnley went ahead in the 32nd minute. A delightfully flighted corner from the right by Cornet was headed against the bar by Jay Rodriguez – but Weghorst was first to react to nod home from a couple of yards out.

The Hammers’ earlier energy and drive sapped in the wake of the surprise breakthrough by a team which had lost their previous game to bottom club Norwich City, as part of a largely dismal run of form which, one can only conclude, cost hard-working and highly-respected Dyche his job at Turf Moor.

Cornet proved a menace on the break for the visitors, on the other hand - and in the final minute of normal first half time, the former Lyon player was sent tumbling in the penalty area by Lukasz Fabianski after outstripping Issa Diop. The Hammers’ keeper had little choice in the situation, receiving a yellow card for his role.

Struggling Hammers

An out of sorts West Ham were relieved, when Cornet, taking his time, then drove the ball wide of the post from the resulting spot kick, therefore missing a great chance to double the lead.

Presumably, there was relief for Moyes to get his men – exhibiting the same listlessness that afflicted them in defeat at Brentford last weekend, before the heroism of Lyon – inside the dressing room at half time with an urge to refocus.

There was extra purpose from the hosts at the start of the second half, with Bowen causing Burnley concern with his pace from midfield. For all the pressure, nothing seemed to stick; Bowen just failing to meet an Antonio assisted header at the Clarets’ far post a case in point.

In 63 minutes, Rodriguez curled a shot wide on a rare foray for Burnley and another goal at this point would have likely sealed the contest overall, such was the Hammers’ lethargy. Recognising the need for impetus, Moyes sent on Said Benrahma for Vlasic.

All the while, Burnley’s work rate was admirable: headers cleared, blocks, impeccably-timed tackles. Jackson’s side were super-industrious, denying West Ham sufficient room for manoeuvre.

However, in the 73rd minute, Burnley’s resistance ended, courtesy of an intervention by Soucek. From a free kick taken by Manuel Lanzini on the right hand side, the Czech managed to evade the attention of four defenders inside the six yard area to bundle home. It wasn’t a moment to grace any showreels but, in the circumstances, West Ham’s relief was palpable.

On the charge for a winner, Moyes watched his men miss a number of chances. The frustration continued when Antonio was denied with just three minutes to go: his powerful header scooped away wonderfully by Pope. The Burnley net minder then spread himself to deny the West Ham attacker once again as the visitors’ defence was breached.

Hammers: Fabianski, Cresswell, Diop, Dawson, Johnson, Bowen, Rice, Vlasic (Benrahma 64), Soucek, Lanzini (Fornals 79), Antonio


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