West Ham fight back to leave Leeds on the brink

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Leeds’ Premier League future is hanging by a thread as West Ham came from behind to defeat Sam Allardyce’s side 3-1 on his return to the London Stadium.

Jarrod Bowen’s second-half finish means Allardyce must record a victory over Tottenham in his final game, but their fate is out of their hands following this damaging setback.

Allardyce said: “Our only challenge now is to beat Tottenham and try to not make the same mistakes we made against Newcastle. Our only hope is that we win our game and see what happens.

It was always going to be a difficult task. Some people say I was mad to take it but I’m not bad. I love being in football and I would’ve been mad not to accept the challenge of managing a club the size of Leeds.”

Rodrigo shows his dejection at the final whistle

Image: Rodrigo shows his dejection at the final whistle

The visitors made a bright start and took a deserved lead after 17 minutes when Rodrigo volleyed in a long throw from Weston McKennie. West Ham equalised in the 32nd minute through captain and newly-crowned Hammer of the Year Declan Rice, six years to the day since he made his debut.

David Moyes admitted earlier this month that there is a ‘good chance’ that Rice will leave West Ham this summer. It has been reported that he could be allowed to move on if the club receive a bid of at least £100m from a Champions League club.

If this proves to be his final home game as a Hammer, Rice ensured he ended on a winning note as Danny Ings found Bowen for his well-taken match winner (72), upheld after an agonising VAR check.

There was still time for Manuel Lanzini to pass in a third in the closing stages following brilliant footwork from Lucas Paqueta to compound their opponent’s misery.

The result means Leeds remain in 18th place, two points below Everton, who face Bournemouth in their final game knowing that victory will secure their safety. Meanwhile, West Ham are building momentum ahead of the Europa Conference League final with this third successive home win in all competitions moving them up to 14th place.

Player ratings

West Ham: Fabianski (6), Coufal (7), Zouma (6), Ogbonna (7), Emerson Palmieri (7), Soucek (7), Rice (8), Bowen (8), Lucas Paqueta (9), Fornals (7), Ings (7).

Subs: Lanzini (n/a), Kehrer (7), Mubama (n/a), Johnson (n/a).

Leeds: Robles (7), Ayling (6), Kristensen (6), Koch (7), Wober (6), McKennie (6) ,Struijk (6), Forshaw (6), Rodrigo (7), Bamford (6), Harrison (6).

Subs: Aaronson (6), Roca (n/a), Summerville (6), Gnonto (6), Greenwood (n/a)

Player of the match: Lucas Paqueta.

How Allardyce’s return unravelled

Leeds boss Sam Allardyce back at his former club

Image: Leeds boss Sam Allardyce back at his former club

Leeds were desperate for all three points in their bid to climb out of the relegation zone and cling on to their top-flight status. They sat third from bottom, two points from safety, with Sunday’s trip to the London Stadium followed by a home game against Tottenham on the final day.

Team news

  • West Ham made six changes from the side that beat AZ Alkmaar to reach the Europa Conference League final to face Leeds.
  • Captain Declan Rice started, however, in what could be his final home match for the club.
  • Leeds duo Pascal Struijk and Adam Forshaw came in for Junior Firpo, who is suspended, and Sam Greenwood.

Everton’s failure to win at Wolves on Saturday ensured West Ham’s position in next season’s Premier League was mathematically guaranteed. David Moyes’ side reached the Europa Conference League final with victory over AZ Alkmaar on Thursday and Sam Allardyce had hoped his former club’s success would play to Leeds’ advantage.

His side were bright from the first whistle, and Rodrigo might have broken the deadlock sooner than he did when failing to control Patrick Bamford’s inviting cross inside five minutes.

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Rodrigo’s sensational strike gives Leeds an early lead in their crucial Premier League clash with West Ham.

Jack Harrison, who scored his first career hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season, drew a simple save from Lukasz Fabianski but Leeds would convert their encouraging start into a lead. McKennie’s long throw was met on the full by Rodrigo for his 13th Premier League goal of the season.

The goal sparked West Ham into life. Tomas Soucek’s close-range shot was saved by the feet of Joel Robles following a series of corners. Rice had a sighter from 25 yards that flew off target but he would not be denied his moment on what could be his final home game as a Hammer.

Bowen was released down the right channel by a delicious Fornals flick and his cross was stood up to the far post for the onrushing Rice to control his shot into the ground and over the scampering Robles.

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Declan Rice equalises for West Ham in what could turn out to be his final game at the London Stadium for the club.

Bamford was immediately hauled off with a suspected hamstring injury, and West Ham came close to completing the turnaround when a Soucek clearance and cushioned pass by Danny Ings sent Lucas Paqueta on a driving run before Pablo Fornals was picked out but his sliced shot was off target.

Another counter-attack sliced Leeds open moments later, with Fornals this time the provider to set up Emerson only to be denied by Robles. An air shot from Wilfried Gnonto and a looping volley from Paqueta ended an entertaining opening period.

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The Brazilian drew a routine stop from the Leeds goalkeeper within five minutes of the restart as West Ham looked to turn the screw. On the hour mark, a Bowen corner was headed into the ground by Soucek to force a fingertip save from Robles.

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Bowen makes it 2-1 to West Ham following a lengthy VAR check at the London Stadium.

Midway through the second half as Soucek received treatment, the stoppage allowed the home fans to serenade Rice with chants of “10 more years”. He had time to take it in before refocusing his mind.

Moments later, Rice was celebrating as Bowen just about held his run to be played onside by Max Wober’s back leg to tuck his shot wide of Robles and into the far corner. The VAR check favoured West Ham – as well as Everton and Leicester. Bowen would be withdrawn to a standing ovation in the final seven minutes as Leeds threw the kitchen sink at an equaliser.

Allardyce went for broke as Sam Greenwood replaced McKennie and within seconds of the tactical switch, Crysencio Summerville was released only for Paqueta to make a vital last-ditch challenge. It would prove a pivotal moment as the more dazzling dribbling from the star of the show picked out Lanzini for a simple finish to leave Leeds on the ropes.

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Lanzini adds a third for West Ham to leave Leeds on the brink of relegation.

Farewell Declan?

Declan Rice celebrates his equaliser

Image: Declan Rice has scored four Premier League goals this season for West Ham, at least twice as many as he has in any other campaign in the division (two in 2020-21 and 2018-19)

Walking onto the pitch with his nine-month old baby, Rice beamed with pride. He has come a long way since his Hammers debut on this day in 2017 – then aged 18 – as a 91st-minute substitute away at Burnley.

Rice has made the most appearances in all competitions (243) and Premier League (203) for the club since that day, recently becoming the sixth player to play in over 200 top-flight games for West Ham.

Having started out as a centre-back, it was in a 3-1 win at Everton in September 2018 when he was first trailed in midfield. He ran the show that day, and has not looked back.

Now, he is mastering the art of arriving late in the box, witnessed by his well-taken equaliser. Such is his stature, Paqueta was determined to lay on a second goal for his captain in stoppage time. It was a mark of respect, if misjudged in its execution.

West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini (top) celebrates with team-mate Lucas Paqueta after scoring their side's third goal of the game

Image: Manuel Lanzini celebrates with team-mate Lucas Paqueta

Rice led the post-match lap of appreciation to the supporters, visibly emotional. Wherever Rice plays next season, he will always viewed this place as his home.

Rice told Sky Sports: “I think you look back on Thursday night, you could tell it took its toll on us in the first 15 minutes. We still created chances in those moments but as the game went on, we completely dominated.

“In the end we could have had six or seven. But an all-round great day.

“To be fair, I had a funny feeling I was going to score today. I think it’s my best goalscoring season now. I’ve made a lot of runs into the box, so I’ve just got to keep on adding that to my game.”

What’s next?

The final day of the Premier League season is on May 28 with every game kicking off at 4.30pm. Free match highlights will be published across Sky Sports’ digital platforms shortly after full-time.

West Ham end their league season with a trip to Leicester before heading to Prague for the Europa League Conference final against Fiorentina on June 7.

Leeds host Tottenham in their last league outing this season.

Leeds’ unhappy travels – Opta stats

  • Only Nottingham Forest (7) have fewer away points in the Premier League this season than Leeds United (9). It’s the first time the Whites have picked up fewer than 10 away points in any league campaign since 1992-93 (7).
  • West Ham have won 26 games in all competitions this season, now their most in a single campaign since 2011-12 (27), and most as a top-flight club since 1985-86 (31).
  • Leeds United have both scored and conceded in each of their last 12 league matches, the longest such run in their history, while in the Premier League, only Everton (16 in January 2013), Aston Villa (15 in March 2008), and Liverpool (13 in August 1997) have ever had longer spells.
  • No side has lost more points from leading positions in the Premier League this season than Leeds (25, level with Nottingham Forest). Indeed, the Whites have won just two of the last nine league matches in which they have opened the scoring (D4 L3).

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