West Ham United 2-2 Blackburn Rovers (Blackburn won 10-9 on penalties)
Carabao Cup third round, London Stadium, Wednesday 9 November 2022
West Ham United paid the penalty for missed chances as Blackburn Rovers ended the Londoners’ Carabao Cup challenge at the third-round stage with a shootout victory at London Stadium.
The Hammers looked to be on their way through to the fourth round when goals from Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio cancelled out Jack Vale’s early opener for Rovers. But the EFL Championship high-fliers had other ideas, levelling at 2-2 through substitute Ben Brereton Díaz with two minutes of the 90 remaining.
And, after 19 successful spot-kicks, Angelo Ogbonna smashed his against the crossbar and it was Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side, and not David Moyes’ who were celebrating progress to the fourth round.
Going into the match in more detail, if you can bear to, Blackburn passed up an opportunity to score as early as the third minute, when former Tottenham Hotspur youngster Dilan Markanday went clean through with only Areola to beat, but the goalkeeper diverted the 21-year-old’s shot past the post.
From the second of two resulting corners, John Buckley saw his low shot deflected wide, but it would only be a brief reprieve as, on five-and-a-half minutes, in almost a carbon copy of Markanday’s earlier chance, Tayo Edun’s pass sent Vale clear and the Welsh forward slotted the ball through Areola’s legs and into the net.
It was a far from ideal start, but West Ham gathered themselves and Blackburn centre-back Hayden Carter was booked for a foul on Michail Antonio before another strong run from the No9 ended in a cut-back for Fornals, whose first-time shot was well held by Aynsley Pears. Fornals then turned provider for Antonio, but the forward’s left-foot strike flew wildly off-target from 12 yards.
The tide had seemingly turned, with the Irons pressing high and repeatedly turning the ball over inside the Blackburn, and the chances continued to come – and go – for the home side. Moments after seeing a mazy run ended inside the penalty area, Flynn Downes saw a long-range effort charged down, then, as the half-hour came and went, both Vladimír Coufal and Emerson blazed over from two of a string of West Ham corners.
The hosts were dominating, but were not troubling Pears – the son of Middlesbrough great and fellow goalkeeper Stephen. Then, seven minutes before half-time, the did not just trouble the Rovers’ No13, they beat him. Antonio outmuscled Mola down the inside-right channel. The forward’s cross was wayward, but then so was Rankin-Costello’s clearance, allowing Fornals to swivel and smash an unstoppable first-time shot low to Pears’ right.
Back on level terms, West Ham continued to press as Lanzini fired a shot over from 30 yards, but it was Blackburn who should have gone in ahead at the break. Instead, after collecting a wayward pass from Conor Coventry, Markanday rounded Areola, but saw his shot blocked on the line by Nayef Aguerd.
Into the second half and Carter needed every inch of his 6’2 frame to divert Lanzini’s first-time shot over the bar with his head, then Mola was quickly across to block Downes’ shot. From the corner, Antonio hit the outside of the post from no more than two yards, then Lanzini saw his free-kick cannon off the defensive wall.
In response to seeing his side penned back, Jon Dahl Tomasson called upon leading scorer Brereton Díaz on the hour-mark, and the Chile international soon fired a powerful low drive past the post. David Moyes responded moments later by introducing Saïd Benrahma, and the Algerian was immediately involved in a move that saw Coufal’s deflected cross tipped over by Pears, who then did likewise to Fornals’ curler seconds later.
It was not long until the Rovers goalkeeper was called into action again to divert an Antonio shot to safety. The No9 was then denied by a last-ditch tackle form Carter, and Benrahma slammed the loose ball high over the gaping net with Pears seemingly beaten.
With a penalty shootout looming, Moyes sent on Jarrod Bowen and Gianluca Scamacca from the bench and moments later, finally, with 12 minutes to play, the almost unrelenting pressure paid off. A diagonal ball forward from Lanzini seeking out Bowen was headed down by an unwitting Blackburn defender, and Antonio adjusted well to screw his shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
But, if anyone thought Moyes’ men were through, they would have been mistaken as Brereton Díaz collected West Ham fan Sammie Szmodic’s pass and fired into the top left-hand corner and take the tie to penalties.
Into the shootout and Rovers went first. Brereton Díaz, Benrahma, Hyam, Bowen, Tyrhys Dolan, Scamacca, Buckley, Antonio, Szmodics and Lanzini all scored to take it to sudden-death. Edun, Johnson, Rankin-Costello, Aaron Cresswell, Joe Rankin-Costello, Downes, Carter, Aguerd and Jake Garrett all kept their nerve to put Blackburn 10-9 up.
Ogbonna then thumped his spot-kick against the underside of the crossbar and West Ham were out.
West Ham United: Areola, Coufal (Bowen 77), Johnson, Aguerd, Ogbonna ©, Emerson (Cresswell 90+2), Coventry (Benrahma 65), Lanzini, Downes, Fornals (Scamacca 77), Antonio
Subs not used: Randolph (GK), Hegyi (GK), Dawson, Zouma, Souček
Goals: Fornals 38, Antonio 78
Blackburn Rovers: Pears, Rankin-Costello, Carter, Mola (Hyam 79), Edun, Buckley, A.Wharton (Garrett 46), Dolan, Dack © (Brereton Díaz 59), Markanday (Szmodics 59), Vale (Hirst 85)
Subs not used: Kaminski (GK), Martin, Phillips, Batty
Goals: Vale 6, Brereton Díaz 88
Booked: Carter, Edun, Mola
Referee: Thomas Bramall