West Ham is not leaving yet. This win wasn’t nearly as comfortable as the margin might suggest, but it does mean they’re breathing down the necks of the top four, with a game in hand and a potentially defining trip to Old Trafford on Sunday.
It’s hard to imagine Manchester United being as generous as Leeds, who played well but fell very short in both frames, but West Ham have developed a habit of turning the screw at the right time and left them aiming for the stars. . “The players are really disappointed with the way he plays. We did not meet the standard that we set this season, ”said David Moyes.
You can’t argue too much with that, nor with Marcelo Bielsa’s claim that Leeds should have taken a point.
They had stormed West Ham early on, with two goals ruled out, and Patrick Bamford was the main offender when several second-half chances were missed. However, their clearest starts came after they had lost two goals, and a defense like the one that allowed the hosts to go ahead on a streak leaves those ahead with a slim margin of error.
Leeds doubled over at the first flash of concerted pressure. When Jesse Lingard led a way inside from the left, he scared Luke Ayling enough to stick a leg out and make him fall. There was no question about the awarding of a penalty by Mike Dean: the intrigue lay in the identity of the pitcher, given that Lingard had been taken out of service last month when Declan Rice caught the ball after winning a penalty against Sheffield United .
This time Lingard took matters into his own hands and shot too close to Illan Meslier, considering himself very lucky to see the ball twist freely for a simple shot on the rebound.
Moyes referred to a week of training ground penalty competition between Rice and Lingard, diplomatically saying the latter had been “big and brave enough to take it” and refusing to commit to the identity of West Ham’s next wide receiver. “The boss just said it’s definitely me again,” Rice said, perhaps blowing the cover on her manager.
West Ham’s second goal, seven minutes later, was more tested and reliable. When Ayling deflected Aaron Cresswell’s free kick, the alarm bells should have sounded shrill for Leeds, given that no team in the league had conceded more goals from the corners and West Ham topped the set pieces table. The message was not understood. Cresswell’s inswinger was milling past a crowded Meslier, oozing no orders, and Craig Dawson successfully launched himself to a must-see headline.
Had Dawson converted another Cresswell corner kick before the break, instead of hitting the post, Leeds would have been buried despite starting off so well, Tyler Roberts being denied a well-used first goal by the most marginal of the off-side. game ratified by the VAR against Hélder Costa before. Bamford passed Lukasz Fabianski only to have the ball just run out of play in preparation.
Shortly after the break, Bamford was cleared by Diego Llorente but swept the ball out. With 13 minutes to go, he shot up close after being hit by the excellent Raphinha, who had turned down a decent opportunity of his own, and the Leeds goose cooked even if Dawson had to clear Rodrigo’s line later.
“We were more dominant in our 60-minute period than they were in their 30-minute period,” Bielsa said, accurately reflecting the division of control. The only other close call from West Ham was a long-distance effort from Pablo Fornals that bounced off the bar.
Moyes was frustrated by the inability of his forwards to retain possession, but was left to contemplate the possibility that, if they can recover to scratch, he has a team that could just stay the course.
“We are doing very well and having a good season,” he said, allowing himself to enjoy the three points, if not in his own way. “It could be a great season.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism