Lanzini and Paqueta

Four things we loved as West Ham beat Leeds!

1. Signing-off in style

For the sixth season in a row, West Ham United signed-off with a positive result in their final home Premier League match of the season.

The Hammers have now won four and drawn two of their most-recent half-dozen season finales at London Stadium, with Liverpool, in May 2017, the only visitors to triumph in such a fixture since the Club moved home seven summers ago.

There is something about the final home game that brings out the best in the Irons, who have defeated Everton (3-1 in 2018), Southampton (3-0 in 2021) and now Leeds United (3-1 in 2023) and drawn with Aston Villa (1-1 in 2020) and Manchester City (2-2 in 2022) in David Moyes’ four season finales. In between, Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers defeated Southampton 3-0 in May 2019.

Certain players seem to enjoy the final home game too, with Manuel Lanzini scoring twice against Everton five seasons back, and against Leeds on Sunday, while Declan Rice (2021 and 2023) and Jarrod Bowen (2022 and 2023) have both netted in two recent final home games.


2. Peerless Paquetá

Paqueta and family

Paquetá was at his outstanding best in West Ham United’s 3-1 win over Leeds United on Sunday.

The Brazilian showed off his full range of talents – his strength, his vision, his passing range, his tackling, his ball carrying, his shooting – in an influential performance.

In the first half, he created a great chance for Pablo Fornals, was involved in a move that saw Tomáš Souček denied by Joel Robles, had a shot blocked and sent a volley high and wide.

In the second, he took over, testing Robles with a powerful strike, wowed the crowd with a double roulette, started the move that saw Danny Ings play in Jarrod Bowen to put West Ham in front, set up Ings for another decent opportunity, then capped his display with a sensational assist for Manuel Lanzini.

After taking a short corner to the Argentinian, he won the ball back from Crysencio Summerville, beat Marc Roca and Rasmus Kristensen, then cut the ball back for the supporting Lanzini to smash past Robles.

And there should have been a goal or second assist, too, only for the No11 to wait a second too long before opting to shoot or set up Declan Rice for a tap-in.

It mattered not. This was Paquetá at his peerless best.


3. Super support


David Moyes commented that he had never seen as many supporters stay behind for an end-of-season lap of thanks as he did after Sunday’s game.

The stands were almost full as Moyes and his players, their families, including dozens of energetic children, and staff made a circuit of the London Stadium pitch to applaud the Claret and Blue Army.

There were some lovely moments, most notably when one of Paquetá’s two sons, sporting his No11 shirt, dribbled into the penalty area before scoring a goal to loud cheers from the Bobby Moore Stand.

Captain Declan Rice and goalscorer Manuel Lanzini were also serenaded by the supporters, many of whom are now preparing to end another memorable season with a trip to Prague for the UEFA Europa Conference League final on 7 June.


4. Fantastic Fornals

Pablo Fornals

By both his own and manager David Moyes’ admission, Pablo Fornals has not played as much football as he would have liked this season.

The Spaniard has saved his best for the European stage, as was evidenced by his superb winner at AZ Alkmaar last Thursday evening.

But the No8 is also more than capable of producing the goods in the Premier League, and he certainly did that against Leeds United on Sunday.

In the first half, Fornals provided an exquisite, scooped pass for Jarrod Bowen to cross for Declan Rice’s opener, shot wide himself, then set up Emerson, who was denied by Joel Robles.

In the second, he teed up Paquetá to test his compatriot in the Leeds United goal, and was heavily involved again in much of the Irons’ best attacking moves.

It was a performance that will certainly give Moyes something to think about when it comes to naming his team for the UEFA Europa Conference League final against AFC Fiorentina next month.