A handful of goals and a clean sheet is superficially indicative of a comfortable game, but the game’s opening was anything but a breeze for a West Ham side let off the hook by Leeds.
Equally, Jesse Lingard drew a penalty before he then somewhat begrudgingly enabled his teammate that secured the spot kick to convert it. Lingard technically failed to do so, with Leeds ‘keeper Illan Meslier saving the initial kick – but Lingard converted the rebound.
Hearts were racing across east London for the opening spells of the game, but a well-worked bullet header from Craig Dawson was enough to put the Hammers in the driving seat.
With a two-goal cushion, West Ham rode the waves of Leeds attacks that followed and saw out the result.
However, Declan Rice – captaining his side – spoke to Sky Sports as he revealed the message he issued to his teammates to lift spirits and regain focus:
“Speaking honestly, I’m disappointed with the performance.
“Tonight, Leeds caused us problems. The first ten they came out really really sharp, they had two disallowed goals and as players on the pitch you need to wake yourself up and get yourself into the game.
“After the first ten minutes on the pitch as players we said to each other ‘look, we need to wake up here, they could be one or two nil up’.”
Forever West Ham’s View
Rice’s words ring true but are equally indicative of the leadership qualities that render him more than worthy of the captain’s armband.
His rallying cry could have made a difference, given West Ham’s eventual control of the game buoyed by some crucial goals.