West Ham United 3 – 1 Leeds United. Leeds United’s Premier League status is hanging by a thread as Europa Conference League finalists West Ham United’s came from behind to secure victory at London Stadium.
For the second week running Leeds were unable to hold on to a first-half lead and this time they did not even pick up a point following late goals from Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini.
An injury to striker Patrick Bamford, which must make him a doubt for Leeds’ final game against Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road next weekend, was further disappointment for Sam Allardyce.
Leeds must beat Spurs and hope Everton do not defeat Bournemouth at Goodison Park or Leicester City collect four points from their final two games in order to stay up.
Judging by the resigned expressions on the faces of the Leeds fans who remained in the stadium until the final whistle, it is not something they think is likely.
It had looked so much more promising earlier in the game when Rodrigo lashed home a volley from Winston McKennie’s long throw.
Allardyce believes clean sheets are the key to survival but one in this game proved beyond Leeds as Declan Rice produced a 31st-minute equaliser.
Bowen then finished off a flowing move to put West Ham – whose own top-flight future was confirmed 24 hours earlier – in front before Lanzini profited from Lucas Paqueta’s inspired run along the goal line in added time.
Allardyce’s typical responses to his side’s shortcomings – a furious rant at Pascal Struijk for not charging forward at a second-half corner and chewing gum thrown to the ground in frustration at another attack that floundered in its infancy – made it obvious what he thought about the situation.
At the start of the game when West Ham – showing six changes to the team that started against AZ Alkmaar – looked lethargic and again in the middle when they went back into their shell, Leeds lacked the guile to open up David Moyes’ side.
When the hosts did rouse themselves, Leeds lacked the ability to keep them out.
The final score could have been even worse but Pablo Fornals and Rice passed up clear opportunities to score.
Last season at Brentford they managed to save themselves despite starting the last day in the bottom three. This time – having sacked two managers in Jesse Marsch and Javi Gracia as well as football director Victor Orta in search of an escape – the chances of a successful outcome look more remote.
In all likelihood this was Rice’s last West Ham appearance at London Stadium.
But even if he does move in the summer, he has one big assignment left as a Hammer in Prague next month.
However, as personal sign-offs go, his latest Hammers goal was a good one.
He proudly carried his baby son out as his personal mascot before the game and after it started, he marked the day with an excellent volleyed finish to a superb move.
Pablo Fornals helped create it with a delicate lofted pass to send Bowen running towards the goal line and the England forward lifted his cross to the far post where an unmarked Rice sent it bouncing into the net.
Rice’s celebration ended with him on his knees by the corner flag as he was mobbed by his team-mates.
Quite how West Ham intend to replace Rice, if indeed he leaves, is a summer conundrum that will not be easily solved.
That problem is for another day. Rice’s immediate task is to emulate Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds by becoming a West Ham captain to lift a major trophy.
source – BBC