Leeds United

Leeds United


Leeds left aggrieved as West Ham progress in FA Cup after VAR controversy

Manuel Lanzini scores for West Ham vs Leeds in the FA Cup, January 2022

Leeds United were left aggrieved after a controversial VAR decision helped West Ham progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

There was little to separate the sides in the all-Premier League clash. Manuel Lanzini’s first-half strike was allowed to stand despite there being an offside in the build-up to the goal. And Jarrod Bowen added a late second on the break.

David Moyes named nearly his strongest XI for the match, with cup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola coming in for Lukasz Fabianksi.

Marcelo Bielsa afforded some of his first team stars a rest, though. Lewis Bate and Leo Hjelde were handed their debuts, while Sam Greenwood made his first start.

The hosts nearly took an early lead through Bowen. His shot was going in if not for the last ditch clearance by Luke Ayling on the line.

Michail Antonio was next to go close for the West Ham, with his effort from the edge of the box forcing a save from Illan Meslier.

Bate and Greenwood both had efforts on goal at the other end, but Leeds struggled to threaten Areola.

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They avoided a scare when after a check, VAR dismissed a Hjelde handball from a Craig Dawson header.

The London Stadium visitors then grew into the game after a slow start. Bate was busy and miscued a volley in the box.

Michail Antonio and Diego Llorente battle for possession during West Ham vs Leeds, January 2022

However, the Hammers scored in controversial circumstances soon after. As Hjelde tackled Nikola Vlasic in the box the ball broke free and Meslier tried to claim it.

Bowen, who appeared to be in an offside position, challenged the ‘keeper and Lanzini then tucked it home amid confusion amongst the Leeds defence.

VAR checked the goal, but didn’t overturn the decision.

Lanzini and Ryan Fredericks both hit the target again before half-time, though Meslier was equal to those efforts.

Leeds ring the changes

Bielsa reversed his pre-match decisions at the break, bringing Raphinha and Stuart Dallas on for Greenwood and Bate.

It was Moyes’ side who came out stronger, though. It could’ve been two when Antonio bullied Diego Llorente off the ball and played in Bowen, whose low shot was saved by Meslier’s legs.

Another Leeds change followed. Ayling made way for Adam Forshaw as Bielsa rejigged his team.

But the Whites still struggled to make an impact. A fourth substitution was injury enforced with Junior Firpo limping off and being replaced by Cody Drameh.

As the clock ticked down a glorious chance did come. Mateusz Klich volleyed across goal but such was the pace of it, Jack Harrison couldn’t adjust and instead the ball bounced off him and wide.

In the first West Ham change, goalscorer Lanzini was taken off and replaced by Pablo Fornals after he had been booked for a cynical foul.

Bielsa made the most of his substitute allowance and introduced Crysencio Summerville for Hjelde.

It should have been 2-0 with 10 minutes left in the match. Fredericks could’ve set up Declan Rice who was in acres of space on the edge, but instead shifted onto his right and fired just wide.

There were claims for a Leeds penalty when Summerville’s cross was cleared by the arm of Ben Johnson. He was saved as it was tight into his body.

It seemed it just wouldn’t be their day, especially when a free Dan James wasn’t able to convert from a few yards out from Harrison’s cross.

West Ham sought to run the clock down by taking Vlasic off for Arthur Masuaku.

It was them who found a late goal, however. Leeds threw everyone forward in their last-ditch attempts and were caught on the counter-attack.

Antonio slipped in Bowen and he finished under Meslier to wrap up the win.

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