West Ham ended their five-match losing run with a deserved point in a 2-2 draw at Leeds.
Wilfried Gnonto rifled in the opener just before the half-hour for his first Leeds goal before Lucas Paqueta opened his account for West Ham with a VAR-awarded penalty moments before the break.
The Hammers were playing for the first time since the death of joint-chairman David Gold earlier on Wednesday, and a bouquet of flowers was placed in the directors’ box at Elland Road where he would have sat alongside David Sullivan.
West Ham found themselves in front 45 seconds after the restart when Brendon Aaronson’s poor pass was pounced on by Gianluca Scamacca, who bent in a stunning second past a helpless Illan Meslier.
Leeds bounced back again and deservedly levelled through Rodrigo, who netted his 10th goal of the season 20 minutes from time with a smart finish.
The hosts pushed for a late winner but were forced to settle for a point, while West Ham finally ended their losing streak – but are still searching for their first win since October 9.
Leeds: Meslier (6), Ayling (6), Koch (6), Cooper (7), Struijk (5), Roca (7), Adams (6), Aaronson (6), Gnonto (8), Summerville (7), Rodrigo (8).
Subs: Harrison (7), Klich (7), Greenwood (6), Gelhardt (n/a).
West Ham: Fabianski (8), Coufal (7), Dawson (6), Aguerd (7), Kehrer (4), Rice (6), Soucek (6), Paqueta (7), Bowen (7), Fornals (5), Scamacca (7).
Subs: Antonio (6), Cresswell (6), Benhrama, Downes (n/a).
Player of the match: Wilfried Gnonto.
How West Ham stopped the rot at Elland Road
Tension dominated the opening exchanges as Timo Kehrer’s blind pass to Rodrigo, who was denied only by Nayef Aguerd’s slide, was an early sign of West Ham’s anxiety, but both sides were unable to hold onto any meaningful possession.
It took Leeds 27 minutes to finally fashion their first shot, but it was worth the wait. Gnonto was given space to run from a throw-in and after exchanging passes with Summerville, lashed the ball inside the near post with real venom.
The hosts enjoyed their best spell of the game after taking the lead and twice could have extended it through Aaronson and Gnonto.
- Leeds made two changes from the draw at Newcastle, with Crysencio Summerville fit to return and Marc Roca in for the injured Adam Forshaw.
- West Ham reverted to a back four and brought in Thilo Kehrer and Nayef Aguerd, with Tomas Soucek and Pablo Fornals also recalled.
An additional cushion may have been crucial given their poor home defensive record, and without it, they were caught cold. Struijk caught Bowen in the box moments before the break, and after VAR sent David Coote over to the review monitor, he awarded West Ham a penalty.
Paqueta was given the chance to open his account from 12 yards after Bowen and Declan Rice’s recent misses, and beat Illan Meslier with a fine finish after a stuttered run-up.
That goal swung back the pendulum of pressure a little further towards Jesse Marsch, and it accelerated within a minute of the restart.
Aaronson miscued a pass back towards Marc Roca straight to Scamacca, who still had a challenge to beat Meslier from 25 yards out. He executed it to perfection, bending a pinpoint effort around the goalkeeper and in off the far post.
West Ham’s defence was forced into an unwanted reshuffle when Summerville was fortunate not to be given a red card for a high challenge on Vladimir Coufal, which forced the Czech defender off minutes later with a gash below his knee.
That uncertainty coupled with Leeds’ positivity following the introduction of Jack Harrison and Mateusz Klich played its part in their equaliser when Harrison, still on for only eight minutes, fed Rodrigo to slot an equaliser into the far corner.
The pair linked up again as Lukasz Fabianski kept out the Spaniard’s rising effort, and he was at his very best to scoop away a third opportunity from the forward in the final minute of added time.
At the full-time whistle, Leeds’ players rallied around an emotional Klich and donned shirts bearing his name – with his departure from Elland Road later confirmed ahead of a potential move to the MLS.
FPL Stats: Leeds vs West Ham
|Goals||Gnonto, Paqueta, Scamacca, Rodrigo|
|Assists||Summerville, Bowen, Harrison|
|Bonus points||Gnonto (3), Scamacca (2), Paqueta (1)|
Marsch: I’d have been unimpressed even if we won
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch told Sky Sports:
“In the first half, if we were better we could have commanded the game more. When we did get in front, if we were cleaner, sharper and more confident we could’ve expanded it and taken control.
“We made a series of bad decisions on the ball, that invited them back into the match. We played backwards too much, invited them into our end, and then we made a mistake in our box. Then it’s 1-1.
“Coming out at half-time, I challenged them to be brave. But then we give away the first play, go down 2-1 and then look like a team who can play. I don’t understand why we can’t look like that from the start and it takes us to have our backs against the wall before we perform to the level we know we can.
“We talk about being brave, they know me. The thing I can’t stand is when we play afraid. When we don’t show the confidence and belief, and commit to the things we know we can be good at and show our quality, it’s very frustrating. Even had we won that match, I would’ve been dissatisfied.”
Moyes: Summerville should have been sent off
West Ham manager David Moyes told Sky Sports:
“We should’ve won it, probably. We weren’t the best at times but we showed willing, a couple of decisions weren’t right – there’s a red card in the game, and when the boy comes from off the pitch to on the pitch and goes over the top, I think it looks a bad tackle.
“There was a fourth official stood there, a referee, you’d have thought they’d have sorted it between them. They’ve been brilliant the players in the way they’ve gone about the business, we’ve got good players and just need them to show a bit more quality at times.
“It’s a tough place to come Leeds at any time and we stuck at it, came back from a goal down and went in front. I thought then we’d stay in front, and we’d have enough to get another goal and win the game. There’s lots of positives, we’ve taken something from the game but I also think it’s a missed chance to take three points.”
Leeds face Cardiff in the FA Cup third round in South Wales on Sunday; kick-off 2pm. They are then back live on Sky Sports with a trip to Aston Villa on January 13 from 7.30pm; kick-off 8pm.
West Ham travel to Brentford – seeking revenge from their defeat on December 30 – in the FA Cup third round on Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm. They then return to Premier League action with a trip to Wolves on January 14; kick-off 3pm.
David Gold: ‘An incredible man who loved West Ham’
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“Gold was the last of a kind. Now in the Premier League a lot of the owners are foreign and do not regularly go to games. They may be buying clubs for financial reasons rather than emotional reasons. He was totally the opposite, he was a West Ham supporter, who loved the club.
“He used to go to every game home and away even when times were tough and getting abused by West Ham supporters, he was willing to take that on not just in person but on social media as well.
“To deal with personally he was someone who would always speak to you. If you went to Premier League meetings where there would be owners or chief executives from all the clubs there, it was a given that after the meeting David Gold would be one of the few people that would speak to the media. Maybe not always on camera but he would take time to speak to you.
“He was a visible presence at West Ham’s training ground. I remember before they moved training grounds, David Gold’s helicopter would be there quite regularly. He was a very hands-on owner.”