West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham United. Premier League.
Match report as West Ham put themselves in pole position to qualify for the Europa League after a 3-1 win at West Brom; Declan Rice missed early penalty before Matheus Periera gave the hosts the lead; but late goals from Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio secured a big win for the Hammers
Thursday 20 May 2021 06:18, UK
West Ham put themselves within touching distance of qualification for next season’s Europa League after a 3-1 victory at West Brom.
Tottenham's defeat earlier in the day had given David Moyes' side the opportunity to take a giant stride towards European qualification, and they had the chance to take an early lead after Michail Antonio had been felled by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone in the penalty area in the first minute.
However, Declan Ride's penalty struck the woodwork and the Hammers task was made harder when Matheus Pereira's corner crept in after a touch from Tomas Soucek.
Soucek atoned for his error, scoring the equaliser just before half-time and the comeback was complete when Angelo Ogbonna headed home in the 82nd minute before Antonio (88) added the gloss to what was a big night for West Ham as they put themselves in pole position to reach the Europa League.
Victory sees the Hammers move up into sixth, three points ahead of Tottenham and Everton with just one game left to play. They play Southampton on the final day on Sunday and a point would see them secure European football for the first time since 2016.
Meanwhile, West Brom's defeat proved to be Sam Allardyce's final game at The Hawthorns as it was announced straight after the match he will step down from his post as the club's head coach at the end of the season.
West Brom supporters - all 5,371 of them - were in good voice ahead of kick-off after returning to The Hawthorns for the first time since last March, but they were silenced just 36 seconds in when their side conceded an early penalty.
Antonio latched onto Semi Ajayi's wayward back pass and he was brought down by Johnstone as he looked to round the goalkeeper. Rice stepped up but smashed the spot-kick against the base of a post.
Despite the miss, West Ham looked dangerous and Johnstone had to be alert to tip Said Benrahma's drive from distance over the crossbar.
The West Brom fans were back on their feet in the 27th minute as their side took the lead.
Darren Randolph - a late change after Lukasz Fabianski pulled out of the warm-up - came for Pereira's near-post corner but the ball flicked off Soucek's head and over the goalkeeper to find the far corner.
West Ham did eventually rally, with Soucek making amends in first-half stoppage time. The Czech midfielder tapped in Benrahma's cross from close range after Kyle Bartley failed to clear Pablo Fornals' initial centre.
However, rather than lift the Hammers in their race for Europe, they initially struggled for momentum after the break and Randolph needed to smother from Ajayi to stop the hosts regaining the lead.
Slowly, though, Moyes' side began to assert their authority and Soucek flashed a header across goal before Aaron Cresswell almost caught the Baggies cold after 64 minutes.
Okay Yokuslu brought down Antonio 35 yards out and, with Johnstone expecting a cross, Cresswell whipped the ball over the wall and hit the outside of a post with the goalkeeper beaten.
Pereira dragged wide following a quick Albion break, but the Hammers finished strongly and struck twice late on.
Ogbonna headed in Cresswell's corner with eight minutes left and Antonio added a third two minutes from time after catching the Baggies on the break.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce: "For me it is a long-term prospect for somebody more than me. I am as you always say a man that comes and saves a club, a man who is short term. I am happy with that. That is my life for the last few years. I think it needs someone to take the club by the scruff of the net and take them up. I thank the club for the opportunity to stay and I'd like to thank the fans cheering us on tonight.
"I haven't been more than that [a firefighter] for the last six or seven years because that is all you lot talk about. If you thought that was long ball today, then somebody is deluded.
"I have made that decision, a very difficult decision to make on the basis of what West Brom. I didn't expect to come here to be talking about this, I expected to come here talking to you with a chance of staying up with a game or two to go. I am my own man. That is who I am. Very generous and very flattered they wanted me to stay."
West Ham boss David Moyes: "We played well in recent games, we didn't play well tonight but we got the goals we needed."
On a point vs Southampton on Sunday securing Europa league football: "It sounds great. I am quite calm about it because I know we have to still go and earn it.
"Overall, we have earned it this year but we have a bit to do yet and hopefully we can get over the line."
West Ham's final Premier League game of the season is against Southampton at the London Stadium at 4pm on Sunday.
West Brom finish their Premier League campaign away at Leeds at 4pm on Sunday.