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Leeds United 1-2 West Ham United
West Ham United recovered from an early setback to see off Leeds United in what was a thoroughly entertaining Premier League encounter with a busy Leeds United at Elland Road.
Performances, at times, have surpassed results for Leeds since their return to the Premier League. Nevertheless, the challenge of facing Marcelo Bielsa and his charges wasn’t lost on David Moyes – himself keen to see his side respond following a defeat to Manchester United last time out.
“I’ve always thought that Leeds coming back would add to the Premier League. They’ve been involved in some great games,” the Scotsman enthused.
“Their style is great to watch. They’ve got a really experienced manager and he’s certainly got a really good group of players.”
Michail Antonio was joined on the sidelines by Arthur Masuaku. Moyes retained under fire frontman, Sebastien Haller, pairing him with Said Benrahma, who was handed his full debut.
Leeds grabbed an early lead which was more confusing than dramatic.
Patrick Bamford raced clear – Lukasz Fabianski clipped the Leeds leading marksman, however, the Polish stopper dived to his right to save Mateusz Klich’s resulting spot-kick. VAR intervened – the keeper adjudged to be off his line – Klich made no mistake when offered a second opportunity from twelve yards.
Haller twice saw attempts blocked as West Ham responded impressively. Meanwhile, Rodrigo was a whisker away from doubling the hosts’ money following a swift and incisive raid down the left.
Benrahma was rebuffed by Luke Ayling as West Ham continued to press, and they were level midway through the half – Tomas Soucek’s powerful header cleared from behind the line after Jarrod Bowen’s troublesome flag-kick had picked him out.
It was open and exciting stuff – perhaps a little more open than either Messer’s Bielsa and Moyes would like. Fabianski fielded from Rodrigo, while Benrahma found the side netting as the end-to-end nature of the contest continued.
Bamford was agonisingly close to adding to his eight goals for the season after turning on the proverbial sixpence immediately after the interval. Haller reacted to Bowen’s centre, but Ayling deflected behind, then Benrahma twice fizzed wide as West Ham again came strong.
Kelvin Phillips had Fabianski scampering across his goal, while Klich fided into the keepers’ midriff. Bowen curled wide and Pablo Fornals dragged narrowly wide from a good position, reminding the home side they’d yet to weather the storm.
Illan Meslier produced a brilliant one-handed save to deny Haller after the Ivory Coast international had met Vladimir Coufal’s inch-perfect free-kick with the meat of his forehead. But when Aaron Cresswell – making his 200th Premier League appearances sent over a similar dead-ball, Italian defender, Angelo Ogbonna thundered his header high into the top corner of the net, turning the contest on its head.
Meslier kept out Haller’s acrobatic overhead kick, while Fabian Balbuena’s glancing header came back off the foot of an upright as West Ham looked to seal the deal. Meanwhile, Rodrigo nodded into Fabianski’s gloves as time ran out for Leeds.
The win moved West Ham up to fifth ahead of the weekend’s games. The East Londoners return to Premier League action on Wednesday, December 16 when they face Crystal Palace at the London Stadium (8pm).
Leeds United: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper (Capt), Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski (Jamie Shackleton 46’), Jack Harrison (Helder Costa 46’), Kelvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich, Raphinha, Patrick Bamford (Tyler Roberts 73’), Rodrigo Subs not used: Kiko Casilla (GK), Ian Poveda, Pablo Hernandez, Pascal Struijk
Booked: Ezgjan Alioski (foul)
Goals: Mateusz Klich (penalty) 6’
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice (Capt), Tomas Souček, Pablo Fornals (Robert Snodgrass 90+1’), Jarrod Bowen (Ben Johnson 85’), Said Benrahma (Mark Noble 85’), Sebastien Haller Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Ryan Fredericks, Craig Dawson, Manuel Lanzini
Booked: Lukasz Fabianski (foul), Mark Noble (foul)
Goals: Tomas Soucek 25’, Angelo Ogbonna 80’
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR: Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes