Hammers Too Sharp for Blades
West Ham United achieved their second double of the season on Monday night, as they beat Sheffield United 3-0 in Stratford to take them onto 42 points, thereby surpassing their total for the entirety of the last campaign.
David Moyes made three changes to the team that played their last top-flight fixture against newly-promoted Fulham, as Issa Diop replaced Angelo Ogbonna who missed the game with an ankle injury.
Manuel Lanzini was preferred to Saïd Benrahma as the Algerian dropped to the bench, while Michail Antonio was not included in the matchday squad. Ben Johnson also came in for Pablo Fornals. Jesse Lingard was again named in the starting line-up and made his home debut. Also amongst the substitutes were Frederik Alves, Jamal Baptiste and Connor Coventry.
The Hammers, who hadn’t been given a penalty all season were awarded one just five minutes after the match got underway.
Craig Dawson was fouled by Enda Stevens when the pair tussled for possession after goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had saved Declan Rice’s powerful free-kick. However, VAR spotted a possible offside and after a lengthy check, the offside was given, meaning referee Simon Hooper’s original decision was overturned, to the disappointment of the home side.
That being said, they kept going and had a great chance to go ahead in the fourteenth minute. Lanzini combined well with Lingard and the Manchester United loanee tried his luck but Ramsdale pulled off an impressive save.
After the Irons had been on top in the early stages, Chris Wilder’s team then had a spell of pressure but fortunately, David McGoldrick shot wide of the post, before Ben Osborn forced Łukasz Fabiański into a routine save.
Following the denial of a spot-kick for the hosts early end the half, Hooper awarded them a penalty after Lanzini, Lingard and Jarrod Bowen all linked up. The January recruit went down in the area after a foul from Chris Basham. After a period of consultation with Lingard, Rice, who stepped up to take the earlier opportunity did so again and sent Ramsdale the wrong way.
The East Londoners had not won at home since beating Burnley on 16 January and they were pleased to be in front at the break.
The visitors are rock bottom of the table and are in need of points wherever they can get them. A strong opening seven minutes to the second-half nearly provided the Blades with an equaliser but McGoldrick saw Fabianski make a fabulous save.
He was on the end of a cross from fellow striker Billy sharp but his header took a lucky deflection off Johnson and the Pole somehow managed to tip the ball over the top.
Six minutes then passed and instead of the scores being level, Moyes’ men extended their advantage. Aaron Cresswell sent in a corner kick and Diop firmly headed past Ramsdale to claim his first goal since scoring against Liverpool at Anfield in February last year.
Five minutes later, Moyes made his first change when he introduced Mark Noble into the action to take the place of Lanzini.
Although the points were seemingly staying in East London, the Blades weren’t giving up without a fight. Wilder had earlier sent on Oliver McBurnie for Oliver Norwood and as the visitors tried all they could to find a goal, Fabianski saved from both him and McGoldrick.
Up the other end, Ramsdale kept out Vladimír Coufal after the Czech had robbed Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu of possession.
With eight minutes of normal time to play, Moyes made his second change, as Benrahma took the place of Lingard.
The game entered six minutes added time, due to an earlier lengthy injury stoppage as visiting defender John Egan had to leave the pitch on a stretcher and two minutes into that allotted period, West Ham made use of their final substitution when Ryan Fredericks entered the fray and replaced Johnson.
That turned out to be an inspired move by Moyes as just minutes later, the former Fulham defender notched up his first goal of the campaign when he received possession from Benrahma and fired past a helpless Ramsdale.
Immediately after the celebrations, Hooper blew the final whistle, meaning Moyes’ men go into Sunday’s home London derby with Tottenham Hotspur with three points under their belts.