Following the sad news of West Ham United co-owner David Gold’s death, his team definitely put in a performance at Elland Road which he would have been proud of as the Hammers drew 2-2 on Wednesday night.
David Moyes made four changes from the team that lost to Brentford five days earlier. Nayef Aguerd earnt his first Premier League start since signing for the club, as he came in for Angelo Ogbonna. Thilo Kehrer returned to the starting line-up in place of Aaron Cresswell, while Tomáš Souček and Pablo Fornals replaced Saïd Benrahma and Emmerson Palmieri who, along with Cresswell dropped to the bench.
The Irons made a disappointing return from their World Cup break, as they ended 2022 on a disappointing note. They were looking to atone for that defeat and kick off the New Year in style. Leeds didn’t pick up three points this weekend either, so this encounter started as a tight affair with neither side wanting to give much away.
Gianluca Scamacca could have given his team an early advantage but his shot was blocked by the home side’s defence.
That wasn’t going to deter the East Londoners however, as they were keen to make a good impression. Fornals won a corner minutes later and it was headed in the direction of Lucas Paquetá. When the Brazilian picked up possession, he tried his luck but there was still no way through.
The pressure that the visitors were converting on their opponents turned out to be all in vain, as Jesse Marsch’s side went in front on twenty eight minutes when Crysencio Summerville set up Wilfried Gnonto and the Italian raced into the box and confidently beat visiting goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.
Gnonto was close to adding a second just minutes later but this time, the Pole denied him. The determination continued from the hosts but it all came to nothing when Brenden Aaronson’s effort was off-target.
After that chance had been missed, West Ham came ever so close to equalising. Vladimír Coufal saw Leeds stopper Illan Meslier off his line and tried an ambitious lob. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite achieve the feat, as the ball went over the top.
The East Londoners thought they had finally equalised just before the break when Souček had the ball in the net but, the joy from those in the away end was short lived, as it was unfortunately ruled out for offside.
Soon after, the travelling support were cheering. Following a VAR check, referee David Coote awarded the Hammers a penalty after Jarrod Bowen was brought down by Pascal Struijk after trying to reach Scamacca’s cross.
It was left to Paquetá to take responsibility from the spot and to be fair, despite a stuttering run as he approached the ball, the midfielder was coolness personified as he beat Meslier.
That sent the teams into the break level and given West Ham’s recent record here, they were dreaming of a first away victory since August 28.
The visitors were given a great start to the second-half, as just forty two seconds in, a mistake from Aaronson presented Scamacca with the ball. He went for goal and the effort deceived Meslier and ended up in the back of the hosts’ net via a deflection off the base of the post. Bearing in mind that Moyes has never lost a league game at Elland Road throughout his managerial career, could this be the rare away victory that the Hammers were looking for?
Both Paquetá and Fornals had chances to add more gloss to the scoreline minutes later, but neither of their efforts hit the target.
With the team now in front and looking to extend their advantage, Moyes made his first change on sixty seven minutes, as Scamacca left the action and Michail Antonio took his place and seconds later, following a bad challenge from Summerville earlier in the match, Coufal was replaced by Cresswell on sixty eight minutes.
Barely a minute had passed after those changes had been made and Marsch’s side had levelled matters through Rodrigo Moreno. He combined well with substitute Jack Harrison, who had earlier replaced Summerville, and the Spaniard evaded the attentions of Irons’ Captain Declan Rice and beat Fabiański from way out.
With ten minutes of normal time to play, the East Londoners made a double change, as Flynn Downes and Benrahma were introduced for both Fornals and Paquetá.
Both sides were trying to find a winner but Rice twice failed to beat Meslier from long-range, before both Moreno and home skipper Liam Cooper went close for Marsch’s men.
Antonio had a chance to take all three points in the dying embers of the contest but was unable to get the final touch on the ball and a good opportunity had been passed up.
The point was confirmed when Fabiański made a crucial save from Moreno and with that, Coote brought proceedings to an and although the Hammers would have wanted the win to remember their former co-chairman by, they would have still been pleased to take something back to the East End.
After losing at home Brentford last week, the Irons will hope to get their revenge on the Bees when they begin their 2022/23 FA Cup campaign with a visit to The Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday evening.