Two late goals helped secure a vital West Ham victory over West Brom to leave them on the verge of qualifying for European football next season.
Said Benrahma replaced Jarrod Bowen and Darren Randolph deputised for Lukasz Fabianski after a suffering an injury in the warm-up as West Ham sought to get their quest for European football back on track. Meanwhile, Ainsley Maitland-Niles returned to the West Brom starting line-up for Grady Diangana.
The Hammers spurned a glorious opportunity to make the perfect start with just three minutes on the clock.
Michail Antonio won a penalty after being brought down by Sam Johnstone after Semi Ajayi’s poor back pass. Declan Rice stepped up to the spot but saw his effort crash off the post.
West Brom settled, but it was the visitors who carried the greater threat going forward.
Benrahma saw a rifled effort tipped over the bar by Johnstone, while Angelo Ogbonna could only find the side netting from the resulting corner.
Those early misses would be punished in the 24th minute when West Brom took the lead through Matheus Pereira.
The goal was initially awarded as a Tomas Soucek own goal, but was later changed to Pereira after his near-post corner was flicked into his own net by the Czech midfielder.
Randolph was called into action to prevent West Brom from doubling their lead, producing a fine stop from Pereira after his strike took an awkward deflection off Aaron Cresswell.
With half time rapidly approaching, the Hammers restored parity when Soucek tapped in Benrahma’s cross from close range. The infamous VAR lines were out, though the goal stood after a lengthy review.
HT | Redemption for Soucek!
West Ham breathe a huge sigh of relief as VAR rules their goal onside. It could be a huge step on the way to European qualification!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 19, 2021
The Baggies came close to retaking the lead after the break after refusing to allow West Ham to clear a set piece. Ajayi was the beneficiary, but Randolph was quick off his line to smother the centre-back’s effort.
Both sides looked capable of bagging a go-ahead goal as the game became increasingly frantic after the hour mark.
Cresswell almost caught Johnstone napping when crashing a long-range free kick against the outside of the post. Pereira, meanwhile, continued to menace the Hammers’ backline with each attack.
Pablo Fornals won his side a corner after Johnstone produced another save, but from the resulting set piece the Baggies goalkeeper was a simple passenger.
Ogbonna steamed in at the far post and couldn’t believe his luck after nodding home from inside the six-yard box practically untouched.
2-1 soon became 3-1 when Antonio finished off a fast break to effectively put the contest to bed with three minutes remaining.
Michail Antonio has scored his 46th PL goal for West Ham. Only Paolo Di Canio has scored more goals in the competition for the Hammers (47)
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 19, 2021
That would prove to be the last meaningful action as David Moyes’ men secured a vital victory in their quest for European football next season.
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