West Ham United 3-0 Sheffield United
West Ham United moved back into the Premier League’s top four, for a couple of hours at least, with an ultimately comfortable 3-0 victory over Sheffield United on Monday night.
Declan Rice opened the scoring with a 41st minute penalty – the first his team have been awarded in the Premier League this season – before a brace of defenders sealed the deal after the break.
Issa Diop made it 2-0 with a well-placed header 13 minutes into the second period, before Ryan Fredericks stepped off the bench to add the icing to the cake, firing beyond Aaron Ramsdale to score his team’s third in the last of six added minutes.
It added up to a resounding victory for the Hammers, who bounced back from their FA Cup exit a week ago in style.
West Ham thought they were in line to make the perfect start when referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot with just five minutes played, after Craig Dawson was upended by Enda Stevens as the pair fought for a loose ball in the aftermath of Rasmdale’s save from Rice’s well-struck free-kick.
Michael Oliver’s VAR check did not dispute that it was a foul, but a look at the offside showed that Dawson was just beyond the defensive line as Rice took the shot on and Sheffield United escaped.
The Hammers were looking dangerous on the break early on, and Manuel Lanzini fed Jesse Lingard to his left on 14 minutes. The on-loan Manchester United men took it into the box and shot for goal, but Ramsdale got down to his left to turn the ball away.
Sheffield United started to threaten at the half wore on, with David McGoldrick shooting wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the box, and Ben Osborn bringing a low save from Łukasz Fabiański, but the Hammers’ ability to hurt the Blades on the quick transition paid dividends four minutes before the break.
Lingard stole possession on halfway, and after giving the ball to Manuel Lanzini, made his way into the area. Lanzini released Bowen to nudge back square to the No11 and with the visitors’ undermanned, Chris Basham clumsily upended the Hammers forward. There could be little doubt that this time the penalty would stick.
Rice took the responsibility head on, stroking the spot-kick low to the left hand side, nestling into the bottom corner to notch his first goal of the season.
Sheffield United came out strongly at the start of the second half and McGoldrick went so close to dragging his side level on 52 minutes. He found himself in prime position at the far post when strike partner Billy Sharp hung up a cross from the left, but his header deflected off Ben Johnson before Fabiański showed fine reactions to adjust his hands and tip over.
The Hammers made full use of that save by doubling their advantage just six minutes later. Aaron Cresswell’s delivery from a left-wing corner begged to be attacked, and Diop obliged, glancing the ball neatly into the far corner.
Fabiański needed to save headers from McGoldrick and Oli McBurnie as the Blades fought gamely for a route back into the contest, but at the same time they were indebted to Ramsdale for keeping the score at two, making himself big to deny Vladimír Coufal with an outstretched left paw, after the home defender had nicked the ball off Ethan Ampadu’s toes to advance into the box.
The Blades keeper was powerless to prevent Fredericks from adding a stoppage time third though, as the defender, only just on as a substitute, collected the ball from Saïd Benrahma inside the box and drilled into the bottom left-hand corner.
West Ham United: Fabiański, Diop, Dawson, Cresswell, Coufal, Rice, Souček, Johnson (Fredericks 90+2), Lanzini (Noble 63), Lingard (Benrahma 82), Bowen
Subs: Martin, Baptiste, Alves, Coventry, Fornals, Odubeko
Goals: Rice pen 41, Diop 58, Fredericks 90+6
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, Egan (Jagielka 85), Ampadu, Bogle, Lundstram, Norwood (McBurnie 62), Osborn, Stevens, Sharp, McGoldrick
Subs: Foderingham, Baldock, Lowe, Bryan, Maguire, Burke, Brewster
Booked: Basham, Lundstram
Referee: Simon Hooper