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West Ham United 3-0 Sheffield United
West Ham United made further inroads towards a top-six finish with this comfortable victory over bottom of the table Sheffield United at the London Stadium.
A draw at struggling Fulham coupled with an Emirates FA Cup exit at Old Trafford had slightly checked West Ham’s progress of late. Nevertheless, with whispers of Europe circulating, boss David Moyes was quick to offer some realism on the subject.
“If we can be in this position going into single-figures of games remaining, then I think you start to look a bit closer and start taking it game by game,” the Scotsman explained.
“You take it game by game anyway, but I think you’ve also got a vision to see where you can be.
“We’re in a period of a tough run of games again which we had at the start of the season which actually turned out to be fruitful for us and we got some really good results and points, so if we can come out of this period with a similar points total then I think we’ll be in a really good position.
“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t but we’re going to have to work hard as the games are difficult and people are getting even more aware of West Ham than they were at the start of the season.”
As it transpired, the East Londoners took another step against a Blades side who offered very little. In a confusing start, the home side were provided with and subsequently denied an opportunity to open the scoring. Blades keeper Aaron Ramsdale palmed away Declan Rice’s free-kick. However, referee, Simon Hooper, pointed to the spot after a subsequent foul on Craig Dawson.
But the official overturned the decision following a VAR call. Off-side the reasoning – the visitors relieved – the hosts, frustrated.
Ramsdale denied Jesse Lingard after Manuel Lanzini had scurried clear and played the Manchester United loanee in. Then, the Blades stopper again came out on top as the pair continued their duel following a lightning West Ham raid, again involving Lanzini.
Lukasz Fabianski stuck out a glove to turn aside Ben Osborn as the Blades finally provided a viable threat of sorts. But when Chris Basham upended Lingard seconds later, referee Hooper again pointed to the spot – skipper Rice drilling low into the corner to break the deadlock.
A combination of Ben Johnson and Fabianski denied David McGoldrick an equaliser immediately after the restart. But the Blades hopes were dealt a further blow when Issa Diop met Aaron Cresswell’s flag-kick – Ramsdale left stranded as the home side doubled their advantage.
Fabianski clawed out McGoldrick’s goalbound header as the visitors continued to toil fruitlessly. Meanwhile, Ramsdale had to be on his toes, firstly pushing away Lingard’s piledriver, then blocking from Jarrod Bowen as West Ham looked to put the contest beyond reasonable doubt.
Deep into stoppage-time, Said Benrahma teed up fellow substitute, Ryan Fredericks to fire home a third. The result moved West Ham into fourth place ahead of the late evening game.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, February 21 when Tottenham Hotspur visit the London Stadium (Noon).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Vladimir Coufal, Manuel Lanzini (Mark Noble 62’), Jesse Lingard (Said Benrahma 82’), Craig Dawson, Jarrod Bowen, Issa Diop, Tomas Soucek, Ben Johnson (Ryan Fredericks 90+1’), Declan Rice (Capt) Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Alves, Pablo Fornals, Ademipo Odubeko, Conor Coventry, Jamal Baptiste
Goals: Declan Rice (penalty) 41’, Issa Diop 57’, Ryan Ferericks 90+5′
Sheffield United: Aaron Ramsdale, Enda Stevens, Chris Basham, John Lundstram, Billy Sharp (Capt), John Egan (Phil Jagielka 85’), Oliver Norwood (Oliver McBurnie 62’), David McGoldrick, Jayden Bogle, Ethan Ampadu, Ben Osborn Subs not used: Wes Foderingham (GK), George Baldock, Max Lowe, Oliver Burke, Rhian Brewster, Kean Bryan, Frankie Maguire
Booked: Chris Basham (foul), John Lundstram (foul)
Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistants: Derek Eaton and Timothy Wood
Fourth Official: Graham Scott
VAR: Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett.