West Ham United 2-0 Leeds United: Leeds' Cup Woes Continue In Hammers Defeat
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 09: The LED screen shows that VAR are checking the West Ham United first goal scored by Manuel Lanzini (Not pictured) during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Leeds United at London Stadium on January 09, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Leeds' wait for an FA Cup run continues as they were defeated 2-0 by West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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You have to go back to 2017 for the last time the side from LS11 reached the 4th round of this competition and though the effort and desire was there, they lacked the quality needed to land a blow on their opponents.

Though this was an all Premier League tie, there was a stark contrast between the two starting elevens with David Moyes naming a vastly experienced West Ham side whilst Marcelo Bielsa made several changes, and gave first team debuts to under 23 starlets Lewis Bate and Leo Hjelde, whilst former Arsenal academy product Sam Greenwood was given a full debut. Raphinha, Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas were all dropped to the bench whilst Patrick Bamford was not fit enough to make his return to action.

  • Story of the Match

The first effort on goal arrived in the fourth minute when Jarrod Bowen cut in from the right-hand side and fired from distance with his preferred left foot, but the former Hull City man dragged his effort well wide of Illan Meslier’s goal.

Six minutes later and the Hammers came agonisingly close to going ahead. Declan Rice’s cross from the left channel was only partially cleared by Robin Koch and Bowen was on hand to send the ball back towards goal with Luke Ayling on the line to clear it away.

The chances continued for the home side and Michail Antonio was next to try his luck, seeing a shot from the edge of the box deflect onto the roof the net.

Leeds’ first opportunity arrived in the 19th minute through exciting prospect Lewis Bate. The dynamic midfielder, signed from Chelsea’s academy, found himself in space on the right channel and bent a shot towards goal but it was comfortable for Alphonse Areola.

Shortly afterwards, the Whites had another chance with Sam Greenwood firing well over from 25 yards out.

Leeds’ youngsters were not looking scared of the occasion and Bate could have scored in the 33rd minute but he failed to properly connect with the ball as it dropped kindly to him.

A minute later, the opening goal arrived, and it went to West Ham. Nikola Vlasic went down under a tackle from Leo Hjelde inside the area which led to a goal mouth scramble but eventually the ball popped free for Manuel Lanzini who fired home.  The goal underwent a VAR Check and was allowed to stand, despite Bowen seemingly being offside and challenging with Meslier for the ball in the build-up.

Things could have got worse for Leeds when Antonio stretched to meet a cross at the far post, but the burly centre forward couldn’t direct the ball towards goal.

With seconds left in the first half, Ryan Fredericks was teed up by Bowen but the West Ham right back saw his low shot saved by Meslier.

Leeds and Bielsa rolled the dice at half time to try and get back into the game, bringing on Stuart Dallas and Raphinha for Bate and Greenwood.

West Ham almost go a second in the 52nd minute when Antonio used his strength to turn and power past Diego Llorente before feeding Bowen who was denied by the feet of Meslier.

If West Ham’s first goal was controversial, there would have been uproar if they had scored a 56th minute free kick incorrectly given after a dive by Vlasic, thankfully Lanzini’s effort deflected up off the wall and into the grateful hands of Meslier.

Leeds introduced Adam Forshaw on the hour mark for Ayling, moving Dallas to right back, but that tactical plan was disrupted less than ten minutes later when Junior Firpo was forced off through injury, Dallas switching across to left back with another youngster, Cody Drameh, introduced.

In the 73rd minute, the Whites had a big opportunity to draw level. Dallas’ cross fell to Mateusz Klich who drilled the ball across the face of goal where it hit both Dan James and then Jack Harrison, yards out, before looping up and wide of the target.

With less than ten minutes remaining, West Ham looked to get a second to kill the game as a contest and Fredericks almost got it, but he fired just wide of the far post after intercepting a Leeds pass and advancing into the area.

Over 8000 Leeds fans had made the trip south for the game and they could have had a late penalty to enjoy when Ben Johnson leant it to meet Crysencio Summerville’s attempted cross, but referee Stuart Attwell ruled he made contact with his shoulder.

The travelling Leeds contingent then had heads in hands as Harrison’s whipped ball from the left got past defender Craig Dawson and struck the legs of James in the middle of the goal, but it could only deflect wide with the former Manchester United player not really knowing anything about it.

Bielsa’s men were throwing everything at their hosts in the dying embers of the game but it produced no reward and in the 93rd minute, West Ham broke to score a second and seal their progression. A long ball found Antonio who charged forward and slipped a pass through to Bowen who finished first time under the onrushing Meslier.

  • Teams

West Ham United XI: Areola (GK); Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Johnson; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini (Fornals 76’), Vlasic (Masuaku 88’); Antonio (Yarmolenko 94’)

Substitutes Not Used: Noble, Kral, Randolph (GK), Oko-Flex, Alese, Baptiste

Leeds United XI: Meslier (GK); Ayling (Forshaw 60’), Llorente, Hjelde (Summerville 78’), Firpo (Drameh 68’); Bate (Dallas 46’), Koch; James, Klich, Harrison; Greenwood (Raphinha 46’)

Substitutes Not Used: Klaesson (GK), McCarron, Jenkins, Moore

  • Talking Point

Leeds looked lacking in the attacking areas against West Ham and the return of centre forward Patrick Bamford can not come soon enough. Not only does the England international bring that quality in front of goal, he also provides a crucial focal point and leads the press from the front. With Rodrigo, Tyler Roberts and Joe Gelhardt all injured, it's vital that Bamford stays fit over the coming months for Leeds. 

With the January transfer window now open, they may also look at reinforcements in midfield. Lewis Bate showed glimpses of why he is so highly rated against West Ham, and Adam Forshaw's form since his return has been a big boost, but the Whites look short of creativity in the middle of the park and a new face to address that issue may also help Bielsa's men in the final third.