- Wood gives Burnley early lead from the spot
- Antonio returns from injury to score twice
If the Super League plotters could not kill West Ham’s Champions League dream, neither could Burnley. Real Madrid and Juventus may yet have to host the kind of deserving overachievers they hoped to shut out of their private club forever. David Moyes might only be four games from his greatest feat after West Ham beat Burnley, leapfrogged Tottenham and closed to three points behind Chelsea.
They also proved the difference a year can make. Last season, West Ham lost their 34th game to Burnley to leave them deep in relegation trouble. The equivalent fixture now puts them fifth. It has been a stunning turnaround and Moyes’ men showed a taste for comebacks.
After losing their previous two games, after going 1-0 down at Turf Moor, they responded in emphatic, excellent fashion. Michail Antonio marked his return from injury by scoring twice in nine minutes. “Michail Antonio made a great impact,” said Moyes. “He was very good last season as well, he probably kept us up.”
Now Antonio could take them to new heights as Moyes ended up drenched but delighted. “Four games to go, it’s great,” he said. “I want to smile about it. I’d love to be in Europe. It would be an incredible achievement. We’re not far away from the Champions League positions. It will probably need us to win all four games. We’ve got to keep believing.”
Antonio epitomised West Ham’s irrepressible spirit. They kept on running and kept on shooting, clocking up 22 efforts at the Burnley goal. They wondered how they did not get a third goal. “We played very well,” added Moyes. “We had numerous opportunities to see the game out. The boys played smashing.”
They keep making light of adversity. Even as Angelo Ogbonna and Mark Noble joined their injury list, they found a way to win. Minus Noble and Declan Rice, Moyes looked as though he had borrowed a ploy from Pep Guardiola’s handbook, packing his team with attacking midfielders. It may have been caused by necessity, but they caused Burnley untold problems.
While Jesse Lingard played a lesser part in both goals, for once he was overshadowed by Said Benrahma, who made the most of his recall. Moyes’ reputation as a pragmatist looks increasingly outdated. Yet again, West Ham offered relentless entertainment. “Our appetite to score goals was great,” Moyes said. “We didn’t deserve to go 1-0 down but the players showed great resilience.”
Many of his teams have built from the back but West Ham have now gone seven games without a clean sheet. They conceded to a regular nemesis as Chris Wood scored his seventh goal in as many games. He converted a penalty after he was upended by Tomas Soucek. The initial culprit, however, was Issa Diop, who was beaten by Wood too easily as both chased Ashley Westwood’s long pass.
It was not Diop’s only difficult moment. He was exposed again when Matej Vydra lobbed Lukasz Fabianski and Craig Dawson recovered well to head off the line. But by then, Burnley were behind as Wood’s annual Turf Moor goal against West Ham was soon cancelled out. Moyes has not had anyone remotely resembling a specialist striker of late but a fit-again Antonio scored a classic centre-forward’s goal, rising above Matt Lowton to head in Vladimir Coufal’s cross after Dwight McNeil had been dispossessed in his own half. “We made a mistake by giving the ball away,” Sean Dyche rued. “The second one, we don’t react to a cross.”
Antonio did as he ghosted in behind a statuesque Burnley defence to apply a deft touch to Benrahma’s inviting centre. “This is a very tough place to come,” Antonio said. “You dread coming here.” But he made it look as though he relished a trip to Turf Moor.
His hat-trick hunt included an improvised shot with his right foot that then hit his left after he latched on to Pablo Fornals’ misdirected effort and a half-volley that thudded into the advertising hoardings while Nick Pope made a terrific save from Lingard.
“We are never a million miles away,” added Dyche. “They just had more ability tonight.” Burnley have gone eight top-flight home games without a win, the joint longest run in their history, and are still not mathematically safe but Dyche said: “I am not worried to much about all your stats and facts.”
His side almost equalised when Jay Rodriguez, who had just come on, blazed wastefully wide after Lukasz Fabianski made a superb save from Josh Brownhill’s half-volley but Moyes said: “We deserved to win.”
65 min Burnley 1 West Ham 2
What a chance! What a miss! Scramble in the West Ham box after a cross from the left. Brownhill thumps a half-volley at the far post which Fabianski saves but turns back towards the centre of goal. Rodriguez traps it, works the ball through an attempted block-tackle and has about 4ft of open goal inside the left post from three yards out. But it comes off the outside of his left foot and flies a good 2ft wide.
48 min Burnley 1 West Ham 2
West Ham on the break again, Lanzini bringing it forward and working it up to Antonio who bombs down the right. Benrahma makes a great support run through the middle but the centre-forward’s pass is just behind him. Had he repaid the service for the second goal, that would have been a tap-in and game over for Benrahma.
32 min Burnley 1 West Ham 2
Benrahma tries the same angled, curling cross/shot again with his right from the left and this time Antonio on the slide just can’t reach it. Another slick move between Lingard, Benrahma, Cresswell and Antonio. They’re a powerhouse down the left and Burnley can’t live with their pace and guile.
29 min Burnley 1 West Ham 2
Put on a plate for him by Benrahma. Lingard had hit the reverse pass down the left, Benrahma cuts back on to his right and spins a cross that would have crept in at the far post without an intervention but the merest brush from Antonio’s right foot made it impossible for Pope to reach.
12 min Burnley 0 West Ham 0
Burnley make a mess of clearing after Antonio had dribbled into the area, found himself up a cul de sac by the byline and just stabbed it through the six-yard box. It pinballed around after Taylor shanked his clearance and landed at Lanzini’s feet 20 yards out. He attacked the shot with his instep to try to curl it but he couldn’t get it to dip quick enough and it shaved the bar.
10 min Burnley 0 West Ham 0
Excellent cross on the run from Taylor, whipped deep from the left, looking for Wood and Fabianski backpedals smartly to slap it away. Moments earlier Benrahma made 30 yards down the left, fed Cresswell who hooked over a menacing cross that Soucek, making a ghosting run into the box, nearly gets on the end of … but for Tarkowski.
During the Twitter blackout
We;re getting our team news not from the clubs but from the teamsheets at the ground which, unlike Uefa teamsheets do not lay out the formation. The Press Association feed suggested that Soucek would drop into a back three bit that seemed a bit crazy given Noble and Rice are out injured. Some questions later, it seems they will actually line up with a back four:
Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell (c); Souček; Fornals, Lanzini, Benrahma, Lingard; Antonio.
Your teams in black and white
Burnley Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Vydra, Wood.
Substitutes Peacock-Farrell, Pieters, Norris, Bardsley, Stephens, Dunne, Gudmundsson, Barnes, Rodriguez.
West Ham Fabianski; Diop, Dawson, Soucek; Coufal, Lanzini, Fornals, Cresswell; Benrahma, Antonio, Lingard. Substitutes Randolph, Odubeko, Balbuena, Alves, Bowen, Fredericks, Johnson, Trott, Coventry.
Referee Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
And welcome to live coverage of the meeting between the sides sitting in 16th and sixth in the Premier League at Turf Moor. The hosts, who have first dibs on the claret and blue tonight, come into the game on the back of that astonishing 4-0 victory away at Wolves following three defeats that had given Fulham renewed hope of escaping relegation, which now seems inevitable.
Your Irons have lost back-to-back games against Newcastle and Chelsea, missing Michail Antonio far more than Declan Rice. Selling Sebastien Haller to Ajax in January was a bold move given Antonio’s injury record and the lack of an experienced back-up. Obviously they thought the offer, even with a severe haircut from the fee they paid for him, was too good to turn down but should they miss out on the Europa League, it will be because of a lack of firepower. Playing with attacking midfielders and wide men up front works for Manchester City but it is dependent on a positional whirl through the front three with Kevin De Bruyne also heavily involved.
Antonio’s thigh problem makes him a major doubt for tonight and Rice, Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell have not travelled. Craig Dawson returns after serving a one-match ban following his red card during the defeat by Newcastle while Fabian Balbuena is also available following the decision to rescind the preposterous red card he was awarded in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea.
Burnley have two longer-term absentees – Kevin Long and Robbie Brady but otherwise pick from a fill squad.
Antonio scored the only goal of the reverse fixture in January but they last beat Burnley in Lancashire on the final day of the 2016-17 season when Sofiane Feghouli and Andre Ayew scored in a 2-1 win. Burnley beat Manuel Pellegrini’s side 3-0 last season but such has been Moyes’ transformational work (and the treatment room) only three of that side are likely to start tonight while the Clarets could have eight.