West Ham United completed their third double of the season on Monday night as they beat newly-promoted Leeds United 2-0 in Stratford.
David Moyes stated in his pre-match news conference on Friday that he thought goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański would be fit enough to start and he was proved right so the Pole was restored to the starting line-up. One other change was made with Saïd Benrahma being preferred to Ben Johnson who dropped to the bench.
Both teams enjoyed a nine day break ahead of this game but they each wanted to bounce back from disappointing results last time out. It was Marcelo Bielsa’s men who made the better start as Hélder Costa tried his luck but fortunately was off target with a curling effort, before Tyler Roberts struck past Fabianski to give the visitors a sixth minute lead but VAR ruled it out.
The same thing happened to Patrick Bamford just two minutes later when he beat Fabianski but the Irons were given another repreve as Raphinha set the striker up but the ball had already gone out of play.
West Ham were able to weather the early storm and eventually grew into the game.
Three weeks ago against Sheffield United, the East Londoners were awarded their first penalty of the season and they were given the chance to go in front from the spot here too.
On 21 minutes, Luke Ayling brought down Jesse Lingard and referee Mike Dean wasted no time in giving the decision. Stand-in captain Declan Rice gave the Manchester United loanee the responsibility but goalkeeper Illan Meslier saved his effort. Luckily, the ball fell back to the winger and this time he made no mistake and put the rebound into the net.
That was most definitely the lift that the hosts needed and eight minutes later, they found themselves further ahead and it was another header from Craig Dawson. He met Aaron Cresswell’s corner with a firm header and gave Meslier no chance.
West Ham were now really in the mood for more goals and were trying all they could to add a third. Benrahma went close but Meslier was alert to deny him.
They kept up the pressure and minutes later Dawson was prevented from scoring his second as he was on the end of another corner from Cresswell. This time though, he wasn’t quite so lucky, as he hit the post with a header.
That was the final action of the first-half and despite the slow start, the home side would have been pretty pleased to go into the break in front.
In the other dressing room, Bielsa must have had strong words for his team as they came back out with renewed vigour. This might have been something to do with the double change that he made at half-time. Costa replaced Jack Harrison, while Ezgjan Alioski came on for Mateusz Klich.
The visitors had a golden chance to pull a goal back as Bamford was set clear with only Fabianski to beat but after latching onto Diego Llorente’s superb pass, he could only send the ball wide.
There was then action at both ends with Fabianski doing brilliantly to thwart Raphinha as he went close with a spectacular overhead effort. The Pole might have been beaten but for a deflection off the head of Issa Diop.
Minutes later, another Cresswell corner was played to Pablo Fornals for him to try his luck. It almost went spectacularly well for the Spaniard but he was mightily unfortunate to have hit the crossbar.
It was clear that it wasn’t going to be a good night for the visitors as Bamford saw another great opportunity pass him by when he once again missed the target after he and Raphinha linked up well.
On seventy three minutes, Moyes made his first change with Jarrod Bowen replacing Benrahma and the Scotsman then shuffled his pack again fourteen minutes later with Johnson taking the place of Lingard.
There was one more chance for the visitors to grab a consolation but thankfully, the Hammers preserved their clean sheet as the ever impressive Dawson made a magnificent goal-line clearance.
A tough night for the home side was finally brought to an end as Dean blew the final whistle, meaning that West Ham were able to celebrate another three points which lifted them up to fifth place in the Premier League table. As if this wasn’t enough of a test for Moyes and his players, they now face another one this weekend, as they travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in Sunday’s late kick-off.