West Ham 2 Leeds 3: Jack Harrison scores superb hat-trick to stun Hammers in blow to David Moyes' side's top four hopes
THEY were missing nine players before the game, suffered two injuries during the match and once again named a substitute born in 2006.
Yet Leeds sent a message to the likes of Arsenal that it is still possible to win with a patched-up side.
To visit Champions League-chasing opposition and win an absolutely enthralling game of football was one hell of an achievement.
This was the proof that maybe West Ham will miss out on a top four spot as they need to win games like this.
Equally, here was the evidence that Leeds – despite some worrying results – should bag the points to be safe this season.
Jack Harrison was Leeds’ stand-out man with a hat-trick.
He put Leeds ahead on three occasions and on two of them, the Hammers bounced back with goals from Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals.
Mat Klich had a goal controversially ruled out for offside and then in injury-time, in-form Bowen missed a sitter to level again for West Ham.
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But certainly, this game had absolutely everything.
Included among Leeds’ absentees was Patrick Bamford and their lack of players was highlighted by the fact Scottish 15-year-old Archie Gray was named on the bench.
Yet Bielsa’s team had some bright moments early on and deserved their opening goal.
Aaron Cresswell made a complete mess of dealing with Luke Ayling’s long punt, Raphina fed Klich whose shot was well saved by Fabianski.
Adam Forshaw kept the ball alive and teed up Harrison who steered a first-time effort beyond the outstretched hands of Fabianski.
Leeds’ injury issues got even worse midway inside the first half with midfielder Forshaw replaced by Lewis Bate and Leo Hjelde came on defender Junior Firpo. Both appeared to be hamstring issues.
Stuart Dallas delivered a brave block to deny Michail Antonio and the home striker should have been booked for a blant dive in a bid to win a penalty.
Craig Dawson somehow failed to score with a header from three yards out after a Cresswell corner.
There was no way Leeds could withstand the pressure and from another outswinging Cresswell corner, Bowen spun round 360 degrees to fool marker Stuart Dallas and his header was unstoppable.
Leeds fans certainly did not appreciate the former Hull player pointing to the name Bowen on the back of his shirt as he ran past the away end.
Despite standing at 5ft 9in, it was his second header in successive matches as he also beat Ben Gibson in the 2-0 win over Norwich.
But credit to Leeds who snapped back instantly with Ayling getting in front of Issa Diop from Raphina’s corner and his downward header bounced on to the ground and was turned in by Harrison.
Being played onside by Vlad Coufal, Harrison had the simple task of nudging the ball over the line with his thigh.
Dan James could have scored twice in first half stoppage time although the first was a particularly bad miss as he shot straight at Fabianski.
It was important that West Ham started the second half strongly and they levelled in the 52nd minute.
Antonio touched the ball beyond Ayling to Fornals and he took advantage of a lack of a tackle from Pascal Struijk before shooting through the defender’s legs and into the near corner.
Yet remarkably, West Ham found themself trailing just eight minutes later.
Raphina threaded the ball to Harrison with a brilliantly weighted-pass and the finish was outstanding as he lifted the ball over the advancing Fabianski.
Nikola Vlasic was guilty for giving the ball away for the move which led to the goal and he was immediately replaced by Arthur Masuaku.
Bielsa subbed his sub with 19-year-old Bate getting replaced for Rodrigo at the ground where a week earlier he was pulled at half-time.
Leeds thought they had gone 4-2 ahead through Klich after Raphina embarrassed Diop, who was having a stinker of a game.
But luckily for West Ham, Klich’s effort brushed off Rodrigo as it crossed the line and while the shot was going in, the sub was offside.
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West Ham thought they had levelled but the offside flag was then raised after Andriy Yarmelnko put the ball in the net with Bowen well offside.
Somehow, in injury time, Bowen delivered a horrific miss when he chested the ball over the bar.
Ultimately, though, Leeds deserved the win.
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