Hammers up to fifth after 2-0 win over Leeds
West Ham United 2
Leeds United 0
West Ham’s fantastic season continued this evening as they moved to within two points of the Premier League’s top four with a 2-0 win over Leeds United at the London Stadium.
The Hammers are up to fifth – with a game in hand over London rivals Chelsea who are in fourth – thanks to goals from Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson.
Both goals came in the first period - the Hammers could in fact have been home and dry by the break thanks to some poor defending from Leeds.
Leeds actually made the brighter start to the game. Helder Costa first hammered an effort over the bar following good work from Luke Ayling down the right.
Then the visitors had the ball in the net twice in the space of three minutes, but sadly for the Yorkshiremen neither effort counted.
Tyler Roberts’ strike was chalked off for the slenderest of offsides in the build-up, before Patrick Bamford saw his effort cancelled out due to the ball going out of play before the cross came in from the left.
But after that West Ham took control.
Tomas Soucek’s header flew over the bar following Michail Antonio’s cross, and then Jesse Lingard, a star reborn since his loan move to the London Stadium from Manchester United, drew a penalty from Ayling – the right-back dangling a leg as Lingard skipped into the box.
Lingard’s penalty was poor, but Leeds keeper Illian Meslier only succeeded in pushing the effort straight back to Lingard, who smashed home the rebound.
The Hammers pushed for a second – and it wasn’t long coming.
Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick was deflected wide, leaving Meslier stranded, but from the resulting corner Craig Dawson headed Cresswell’s set-play into an empty net after the cross evaded the defence - and goalkeeper Meslier.
Said Benrahma could have put the game to bed soon after, but his shot from just outside the box was a poor effort, flying over the bar.
Benrahma then drew a smart low save from Meslier down to his left before Dawson – allowed a free run at Cresswell’s corner again, this time from the left – planted a header against the post, just a lick of paint between the Hammers being out of sight before the break.
Leeds were much better after the break, but were guilty of squandering numerous opportunities to get back into the game.
Bamford was played through but could only curl his effort wide of the left post just minutes after the break.
Then came two spectacular efforts. First an acrobatic overhead kick by Raphinha took a deflection on its way to being well saved by the returning Lukasz Fabianski. Then at the other end Pablo Fornals rattled the crossbar from 30 yards out as the game opened up.
Raphinha had another great chance to bring Leeds back into it on 64 minutes but struck Ezgjan Alioski’s cross straight at Fabianski when all alone on the penalty spot, before Bamford fired over when all alone eight yards out.
If West Ham are going to get into the top four they will have to tighten up at the back – better sides would have punished them in the second half this evening.
But for now the bubbles are flying high for the happy Hammers.
West Ham: Fabianski, Cresswell, Coufal, Benrahma (Bowen, 73), Lingard (Johnson, 87), Dawson, Fornals, Diop, Soucek, Antonio, Rice
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Bamford, Roberts (Rodrigo, 60), Llorente, Dallas, Costa (Harrison, h/t), Raphinha, Phillips, Klich (Alioski, h/t)
Referee: Mike Dean