Jesse Lingard: West Ham United’s class came through against West Bromwich Albion
When things feel like they’re starting to go against you, it can be easy to forget that football matches are decided over 90 minutes.
But as Jesse Lingard observed following West Ham United’s 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, the Irons did not buckle when events transpired against them, but instead took the challenge in their collective stride.
The Hammers suffered triple misfortune in the early stages at The Hawthorns, seeing goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski withdrawn in the warm-up, Declan Rice’s second-minute penalty hit the post, and Matheus Pereira give West Brom the lead direct from a corner kick.
Yet they admirably rode out adversity.
Said Benrahma set up Tomáš Souček for a pivotal equaliser on the stroke of half-time, before Angelo Ogbonna – from a corner of their own – and Michail Antonio – via a Lingard assist – sealed the Irons' victory late on.
West Ham now require just a sole point from their final Premier League game of the season – at home to Southampton on Sunday – to secure sixth place and UEFA Europa League football next season.
“It wasn't pretty, I'll tell you that,” Lingard told West Ham TV at full-time. “The boys are in the dressing room celebrating a big win.
“We stuck together through the hard times. We knew it was going to be difficult against West Brom. It is always difficult coming here, especially the first time with fans back, which is amazing. They were going to get behind them and show support for them to win the game.
“I thought we were calm and composed in certain aspects, especially towards the end when we broke [and scored our third goal]. We were waiting for that opportunity all game to get a three vs two with the defenders.
“It was just about timing, with the run from Mich to keep himself onside. He did that, and then it was about my weight of pass into his path to hit it first time.
“The lads showed courage, fight and great character to come back.”
Against the backdrop of thousands of returning West Brom supporters, Lingard and his teammates showed character and resilience to rail against the tide of early events.
“That's football,” the No11 noted. “You're going to get different things and you've got to expect the unexpected.
“It was a scrappy game, a lot of second balls. We dominated possession and our quality showed in the end."
West Ham looked set to make it three games without a Premier League win when the scores were tied at 1-1 in the closing stages.
It's another big game at the weekend when we've got the fans there, which will be brilliant to put on a show for them
After such a consistently impressive campaign, the frustration of the recent defeat to Everton and draw at Brighton & Hove Albion could have played on the team’s minds.
Yet Lingard and his defiant teammates battled back from those results to show their quality in the end, and can now look forward to Sunday’s season finale versus Southampton, which will be played in front of a booming 10,000-strong Claret and Blue Army at London Stadium.
Lingard concluded: “It's good because we should have got more from the Everton and Newcastle games, and at Brighton we should have done more to win the game.
“When you come here and go one down, it is time to wake up a bit and kick on – then, the class comes through.
“It's another big game at the weekend when we've got the fans there, which will be brilliant to put on a show for them.
“We don't play for a draw or a loss, we always play for a win – no matter what.”