West Ham move up to fifth with comeback win over Leeds

West Ham TEAMtalk

West Ham moved up to fifth in the Premier League after recovering from a bad start to beat Leeds United 2-1 at Elland Road.

David Moyes’ men sat in eighth ahead of kick-off but knew a win would see them leapfrog Manchester City, Manchester United and Southampton until tomorrow evening at least.

And they did just that thanks to Angelo Ogbonna’s 79th minute header which completed the turnaround.

Leeds made a fast start, winning a penalty inside two minutes after Lukasz Fabianski brought down Patrick Bamford.

The Polish ‘keeper saved the first effort from his fellow countryman Mateusz Klich but was ruled to have come off his line so a retake was ordered and, after a few minutes of protests from West Ham, Klich found the bottom right corner at the second time of asking.

The Hammers reacted well to the early setback and quickly created three chances of their own. First, Jarrod Bowen used great footwork to break into the box from out wide, but he could not find a cross.

Sebastien Haller was then found in space just yards out but mistimed his header, before seeing another close-range effort saved by Illan Meslier.

Having held onto their advantage, the home side crafted an opportunity to double it in the 17th minute when Ezgjan Alioski fizzed a cross into the area to find Rodrigo, however he couldn’t direct his first time effort on target.

Tomas Soucek West Ham TEAMtalk

And West Ham grabbed a deserved equaliser seven minutes later through Tomas Soucek, who rose above Stuart Dallas to get his head on a corner and power past Meslier for his third goal of the season.

It was no surprise the goal came from a set-piece, the Hammers caused their opponents problems all night thanks to their superior height and well-worked routines.

In what was a fast-paced and attack-focused encounter the two teams continued to trade punches as the chances at either end showed no sign of stopping and Leeds created another within minutes of conceding.

Raphina found Rodrigo with a fine pass in-behind the defensive line and the Brazilian opted to cut inside rather than attempt to find Bamford who was supporting. That proved to be the wrong option though as he fired his effort straight at Fabianski.

Said Benrahma then hit the side netting with a 20-yard strike before Fabian Balbuena did well to cut out a dangerous cross with Bamford and Rodrigo waiting to pounce.

With just under five minutes to go until the break Leeds appealed for another penalty when the ball struck Ogbonna’s arm, but referee Michael Oliver waved those claims away.

The final chance of a pulsating first half fell to makeshift centre back Luke Ayling who let fly from distance, but the ball curled safely into the arms of a grateful Fabianski.

Marcelo Bielsa made a double substitution at half-time, changing the left side of his line-up as Alioski and Jack Harrison were replaced by Jamie Shackleton and Helder Costa.

Shackleton was involved quickly as he set up Bamford, but Leeds’ top scorer didn’t quite get the required bend on his shot to curl it inside the left post.

Ayling, Haller, Leeds, West Ham TEAMtalk

The visitors’ first chance after the interval went to Haller, but his misfortune in front of goal went on as he was unable to get his shot away before Ayling got in the way to block. The former Frankfurt striker then had a header tipped over from the resulting corner.

Benrahma, still looking for his first league goal for his new club following a summer move from Brentford, had two attempts at goal just after the hour mark, but wasn’t able to trouble Meslier with either of them and the scores remained level.

The Algerian did have the French goalkeeper worried with a shot in the 68th minute though, but it curled just wide of the top right corner.

Leeds had not been as much of an attacking force in the second half but Kalvin Phillips and Klich sent warning shots to Fabianski by forcing him into two quickfire saves.

But it was certainly West Ham looked the more likely to claim the three points in the last 20 minutes and Bowen was the next to try his luck, but his effort sailed wide of the left post. Pablo Fornals then had a glorious chance to score when a misjudgment from Liam Cooper put him in space inside the box, but he rolled the ball across goal and inches wide.

Leeds had Meslier to thank for not falling behind after failing to deal with another set piece as he produced a strong hand to deny Fabian Balbuena.

But Leeds’ luck eventually ran out with 10 minutes remaining as the Ogbonna headed home Aaron Cresswell’s pinpoint delivery to give the London club a deserved lead.

West Ham were dominant in the game by now and almost scored a third when Haller’s acrobatic effort looked destined for the bottom corner, but Meslier was again quick to react. Balbuena hit the post seconds later as the Hammers looked to kill the game off.

They were almost made to pay for not doing so when Rodrigo made good contact with Ayling’s cross as the clock hit 90 minutes, but Fabianski ensured his team claimed a well-earned win in West Yorkshire.