Jack Harrison scored a hat-trick as Leeds put further daylight between themselves and the bottom three with a 3-2 victory over West Ham.
In a pulsating contest, Harrison notched his first early on but Jarrod Bowen’s effort brought the sides level. Harrison’s second made it 2-1 at half-time. Pablo Fornals equalised after the break only for Leeds’ winger to bag his third.
West Ham boss David Moyes named an unchanged side from the one that beat Norwich last-time out. But Leeds brought in Daniel James and Pascal Struijk for Tyler Roberts and Diego Llorente from the starting XI that downed Burnley.
Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa stated ahead of kick off that he wanted his men to take a positive approach to the game. And he was as good as his word, encouraging his charges to keep the home side pinned in their half early on.
They looked lively in attack, with Harrison having a shot blocked as early as the seventh minute. And the 25-year-old found then found net to give his side the lead just three minutes later.
Mateusz Klich’s long-range shot was parried by Lukasz Fabianski but Adam Forshaw was quick to get hold of the loose ball. He fed Harrison, who finished with aplomb from the middle of the box.
It was no more than the visitors deserved for their early endeavours. Moyes was visibly annoyed at the manner of the goal and vented his spleen on the touchline.
His men responded, with Junior Firpo just denying Jarrod Bowen a shooting opportunity after excellent work by Declan Rice and Michail Antonio.
Leeds have struggled with injuries this term and their cause was further hampered when Forshaw was forced off with a hamstring problem.
He was replaced by Lewis Bate on 23 minutes and things went from bad to worse. Firpo also exited the action with a leg injury, with Leo Hjelde replacing the Spaniard.
The hosts began to get more of a foothold in the contest as the half wore on. Craig Dawson’s header from Aaron Cresswell’s delivery sailed just wide on the half-hour mark.
But four minutes later the Londoners were on level terms. And it was in-form Bowen who got the home faithful off their seats.
After pulling away from his marker, he headed home Cresswell’s corner to make it 1-1. However, there was parity for only three minutes as Leeds re-took the lead through Harrison.
He bagged his second of the game from close range following Luke Ayling’s flicked header. Rice shot into the side netting while Dan James’ effort flew just wide as the first 45 minutes of an absorbing contest came to an end.
West Ham emerge all-guns blazing
Moyes may have got stuck into his players at half-time as they emerged with more purpose. And it was not too long before they equalised for the second time.
The Hammers were all over Leeds defence and their persistence finally paid off. Antonio’s miskick fell to Fornals who cut back inside before firing past Illan Meslier on 52 minutes.
Harrison bags a third
Both sides continued to attack and it was no surprise when Leeds nudged ahead yet again. And it was that man Harrison who notched Leeds third, bagging a hat-trick on 60 minutes.
HARRISON HAT-TRICK!!!! pic.twitter.com/Nvlrsv2Zl5
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2022
Raphinha’s superb pass carved open the West Ham defence, allowing Harrison to side-foot home and claim the match ball.
And it could have been 4-2 as Raphinha curled a free kick against the bar on 63 minutes. It seemed as though Klich had made sure of the points with Leeds side’s fourth in the 74th minute.
However his effort was ruled out for offside by VAR. West Ham also had a goal ruled out for offside after Andriy Yarmolenko appeared to have headed home the equaliser on 82 minutes.
Leeds are now nine points above the drop zone while West Ham remain fourth.