West Ham United suffered a setback in their bid for a top four finish with a 3-2 defeat at home to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon, courtesy of a Jack Harrison hat-trick.
Ahead of the repeat of last weekend’s FA Cup clash, David Moyes highlighted the extra match West Ham had sandwiched in midweek and his side started in expectedly sluggish fashion. Leeds, conversely, began probing their hosts from the first whistle.
Harrison ensured Leeds capitalised upon their early dominance, rattling a crisply hit strike into the bottom corner after Lukasz Fabianski’s parry ten minutes into the contest.
Yet, injuries swiftly checked Leeds’ momentum in the game – just as they have all season – as both Adam Forshaw and Junior Firpo hobbled off within the opening half hour. Marcelo Bielsa was forced to call upon two teenagers from a bench littered with inexperience, affording West Ham a way back in amid the reshuffle.
Jarrod Bowen continued his fine form to nod West Ham level via the most predictable route, converting a corner – Leeds’ Achille’s heel – minutes after Craig Dawson squandered a close-range chance from another dead ball.
But Harrison doubled his personal tally for the afternoon via the same route, restoring Leeds’ advantage within five minutes of Bowen’s equaliser. Sneaking around the back post, Harrison contorted his body to divert Luke Ayling’s header over the line.
The visitors managed to limp (fittingly enough) into the interval with their lead intact, but West Ham had them penned into their own half after the break. Pablo Fornals hauled the Hammers level for the second time with a sharp effort reversed into the corner.
However, Leeds would not wilt under the mounting adversities the fates tossed their way. Raphinha, integral as ever, spotted the gaping hole left in West Ham’s transitionary backline to pick out Harrison for his first ever Leeds hat-trick.
With a third one-goal advantage of the afternoon, Leeds were the side offering the greater threat as the match played out a chaotic conclusion, taking advantage of a porous and unbalanced home side.
Both teams had goals ruled out via narrow offside calls but Bowen chested over a chance from close-range right at the death that would have robbed Leeds of a deserved three points and their fist consecutive Premier League wins of the season.
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – 5/10 – Left clutching at thin air as Harrison tapped into an unknown finishing prowess.
Vladimir Coufal (RB) – 3/10 – Never a good sign when the winger on your flank scores a hat-trick, Coufal was criminally AWOL for Harrison’s third.
Craig Dawson (CB) – 4/10 – Some questionable mobility was exposed as the game became increasingly stretched.
Issa Diop (CB) – 4/10 – Far too often weak in the tackle in an overall defensive performance from the team that may have accelerated the reintroduction of Kurt Zouma.
Aaron Cresswell (LB) – 6/10 – Posed a considerable threat with his deliveries both in open play and from set pieces.
Manuel Lanzini (CM) – 5/10 – Struggled to exert any real influence on proceedings amid the chaos that swept up the middle third.
Declan Rice (CM) – 7/10 – Driving forward from midfield with an increasingly common command of the match.
Pablo Fornals (AM) – 7/10 – Peppered the encounter with intricate involvements between the lines, took his goal well.
Jarrod Bowen (RW) – 7/10 – Constantly able to find space when crosses were tossed into Leeds’ box throughout – may well be disappointed with his single goal from these positions.
Michail Antonio (ST) – 5/10 – Eager to get involved in West Ham’s build-up play but all too often outside the penalty box.
Nikola Vlasic (LW) – 4/10 – A non-entity at either end before his early removal.
Arthur Masuaku (LW) – 5/10
Andriy Yarmolenko (AM) – N/A
Sonny Perkins – N/A
Illan Meslier (GK) – 7/10 – Produced a stunning double save in the final ten minutes and was rewarded by a raised flag to deny Yarmolenko a goal despite his intervention.
Stuart Dallas (RB) – 6/10 – Lost Bowen after the slightest change in direction at a corner but recovered from his early error.
Luke Ayling (CB) – 6/10 – Arrowed a superb pass forward in the build-up to Harrison’s opener.
Pascal Struijk (CB) – 7/10 – Given the unenviable task of tracking Antonio all over the pitch, Struijk didn’t shirk from the physical battle.
Junior Firpo (LB) – N/A – Forced off holding his hamstring within the opening 25 minutes.
Robin Koch (DM) – 4/10 – Desperately struggled offer provide the stiff defensive resolve his deployment in midfield surely was intended to bring.
Adam Forshaw (CM) – 7/10 – Started superbly, teeing Harrison up for the game’s opening goal before injury snatched him off the pitch.
Mateusz Klich (CM) – 6/10 – Skirted around the fringes of a wild contest before being denied by the VAR.
Raphinha (RW) – 8/10 – A nagging nuisance for Cresswell throughout, Leeds’ enigmatic Brazilian was as electric as ever.
Daniel James (ST) – 7/10 – Squandered a golden opportunity to extend Leeds’ advantage in the first half but threw his body around the pitch in his attempts to win the ball back.
Jack Harrison (LW) – 8/10 – A maiden hat-trick for Leeds on an afternoon to remember, Harrison didn’t do much other than score.
Lewis Bate (CM) – 3/10 – Tossed into the heat of a bubbling contest, Bate never matched the temperature of the contest and was substituted himself in the second half. Ouch.
Leo Hjelde (LB) – 6/10
Rodrigo (CM) – N/A