West Ham United 2-0 Leeds United: Frustrating Night For Bielsa's Men
(Photo by Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images)

Leeds United failed to get back to winning ways as they went down 2-0 against West Ham United at the London Stadium thanks to two goals in seven first half minutes.

The Whites welcomed back Kalvin Phillips to the starting eleven with Pascal Struijk dropping to the bench to sit alongside the returning trio of Rodrigo, Gaetano Berardi and Ian Poveda.

The hosts meanwhile were looking to extend their excellent form under David Moyes and keep up the chase for a top four place. 

Story of the Match

As is the way under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds saw a lot of the early possession and they created the game’s first chance in the 5th minute. Mateusz Klich slipped the ball through for Helder Costa on the right flank and the Portugese winger shifted the ball onto his left foot before blazing over the bar.

Costa was involved again moments later when Leeds were denied an opening goal by the narrowest of margins. A cross from the left ended up with him at the far post and he pulled the ball back for Tyler Roberts who fired in, but Costa’s knee was ruled to be just offside.

It took until the eighteenth minute for West Ham to have their first sight of goal. Michail Antonio’s well delivered ball from the left found Tomáš Souček who failed to direct it towards goal under pressure from the visiting defence.

Two minutes later, the hosts were awarded a penalty. Jesse Lingard used his pace and trickery to run at the Leeds’ defence before being tripped by the outstretched leg of Luke Ayling. It was Lingard who stepped up to take it and though Illan Meslier dived to his right to save the spot kick, he failed to keep hold and Lingard reacted quickest to tap home the rebound.

The Hammers doubled their advantage shortly after to give Leeds a mountain to climb. Aaron Cresswell’s dangerous looking free kick was deflected out for a corner initially and when Cresswell delivered the resulting set piece, it found Craig Dawson diving in for a free header.  Meslier claimed he was blocked off when trying to come and collect, but referee Mike Dean waved away the appeal.

That goal rocked Leeds and they desperately needed to get a foothold in the game. Lingard and Saïd Benrahma both tried to seal the win for West Ham but their long-distance efforts failed to find the target.

Benrahma then forced Meslier into a diving save late in the first half after cutting inside and bending a shot towards goal with his right foot.

It almost got worse for Leeds just before half time as Moyes’ men hit the post with Dawson coming close to scoring a brace. Another corner, this time from the opposite side, found the former Watford defender just outside the six-yard box but his header clipped the upright.

Clearly unhappy with what he had seen from his side in the first half, Bielsa made two changes at half time, bringing on Jack Harrison and Gjanni Alioski for Costa and Klich.

The visitors almost made the perfect start to the half as they had a great chance to get one back. Diego Llorente stepped forward from defence and slipped the ball through for Patrick Bamford, he opened himself up but could only bend the ball wide of goal. 

In the 51st minute, Leeds went close again as Raphinha tried an incredible overhead kick but saw his acrobatic effort tipped over the bar by Lukas Fabianski

West Ham knew a third goal would kill the game and Pablo Fornals almost got it with a terrific effort from 25 yards out which beat Meslier but not the crossbar. 

Raphinha has been one of Leeds' best performers this season, bringing some Brazilian flair to LS11 since arriving in the summer, and he kept up his search for a goal, intercepting the ball and making room for a shot before firing wide.

Another of Leeds' summer signings was then introduced with Rodrigo brought on in place of Roberts. 

The Hammers had looked so dangerous from every dead ball and just after the hour mark, another Creswell delivery caused havoc in the Leeds area with Declan Rice seeing two efforts blocked. 

Leeds weren't giving up and they had a great chance to get back in the game. Alioski got clear down the left flank and his pull back found the run of Raphinha who stung the palms of Fabianski.

With just under twenty minutes to go, the ball was teed up nicely for Stuart Dallas on the edge of the area but his well struck effort was blocked by Issa Diop

West Ham were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Leeds area and after Lingard set him up with a little touch, Rice drilled a low shot wide of the goal. 

Time was running out for the Whites to find a way back into the game and they missed a huge chance in the 77th minute. After Bamford skewed his initial effort, Raphinha raced onto the loose ball and passed it back to Leeds' top scorer but he fired over when he should have at least hit the target. 

It was turning into an extremely frustrating evening for Leeds and in the final few minutes of the game, they missed an absolute sitter.

Good build up play resulted in Luke Ayling passing the ball first time across the face of goal but when it arrived at the feet of Rodrigo, he failed to get his feet sorted quick enough and Dawson was able to clear off the line. 

That proved to be the last meaningful moment of the game with Leeds left to travel back up north, rueing errors in both boxes and reflecting on a second successive defeat.

Takeaways from the Match

More London Woes for Leeds

A lot has already been written about Leeds' woes in London. The team away from Elland Road have only won once in London since March 2015 and up against an in-form West Ham side, they couldn't break that "curse" tonight.

Pressing The Self Destruct Button

Leeds were enjoying a strong start to the match, taking the game to their hosts, and if they had a bit more luck, they could have scored one or two.

However, all that hard work was undone in a ten-minute period where they conceded a penalty and then gave Craig Dawson a free header from a corner. That gave West Ham something to defend and they never looked back.

Not Far Away

Leeds are not far off being a very good Premier League side, but this game highlighted perfectly the issues they face.

They gave their opponents two goals and then when they were chasing the game, they failed to take their chances. If Leeds are to do better, they must cut out their defensive lapses, especially from set pieces, and be more ruthless in front of goal.