David Moyes was full of praise for Leeds after admitting he was disappointed with West Ham’s performance despite their 2-0 win on Monday night.
Moyes’ side climbed to fifth – two points behind Chelsea, who beat Everton 2-0 earlier on Monday – and have a game in hand on their London rivals.
Jesse Lingard sparked West Ham into life after a sluggish start when his run into the penalty area drew a foul from Luke Ayling. Lingard converted the rebound after his spot-kick was saved by Illan Meslier.
Leeds had found the net twice in a blistering opening spell, but Tyler Roberts’ finish was ruled out for a marginal offside against Helder Costa, and Raphinha ran the ball out of play before crossing to Patrick Bamford.
But the visitors were two goals down before half-time when the unmarked Craig Dawson headed in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
Leeds continued to squander chances in the second period, with Patrick Bamford the main culprit, as the Hammers ended up with a valuable three points.
Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, Moyes said: “Everybody says Leeds are a good watch. It’s a difficult game against them. We were fortunate at times but a little unfortunate at others.
“We were resilient, we didn’t play well tonight. I don’t think Leeds help you play well, you have got to earn it.
“You never know with VAR when the first goal was disallowed, you never know if it will be given. We grew into it and regained a little bit of control by the break.
“People who want to head the ball is a dying art. Craig Dawson is very good at it.
“Leeds make you play at incredible intensity. All clubs when they play Leeds, their running stats will be as high as any time in the season.
“When you get near the top it gives you a big incentive. I was gutted when we dropped out the top four.”
Slow start almost cost Hammers
Lingard, who continued his fine form since arriving on loan from Manchester United, added: “We started slow and weren’t confident on the ball. We got the goals but if we want to push on for top four we need to be better.
“I like to commit players to have time and space on the ball. I like to drive into the box and make things happen. That was the only chance to do that (for the penalty) and it paid off.
“It is about consistency. We dropped off it a bit today. But the three points are important. We take each game step by step. We learn from each.
“It is not going to be easy every game. Leeds gave us a good game today. It is about objectives and taking confidence into the next game.”