LONDON (AP) – West Ham overcame the lack of a recognised striker to beat Sheffield United 3-0 in the Premier League on Monday, maintaining its pursuit of Champions League qualification.
With Jesse Lingard pulling the strings in attack, Declan Rice, Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks provided the goals.
West Ham manager David Moyes last week bemoaned the fact his side was the only team in the Premier League not to have been awarded a penalty this season.
That nearly changed after only five minutes when Craig Dawson, following up Rice’s free-kick, was pushed over in the penalty area by Enda Stephens. Referee Simon Hooper awarded the spot kick but VAR ruled that Dawson was offside when Rice struck his initial shot.
Howver, Moyes would not have to wait long for his penalty drought to come to an end.
Lingard, back in the team after sitting out at Manchester United in the FA Cup under the terms of his loan deal, was influential in the inside-left position and twice forced good saves from Aaron Ramsdale.
And five minutes before halftime, Lingard dispossessed Oliver Norwood, raced upfield and exchanged passes with Jarrod Bowen before he was wiped out in the area by an ungainly challenge from Chris Basham.
Lingard wanted to take the penalty but captain Rice pulled rank before tucking away his first goal of the season, and the first spot kick of his career.
Sheffield United arrived in London knowing a win would lift the team off the foot of the table for the first time since November 7.
David McGoldrick could have pulled the visitors level with a close-range header, but his weak effort was kept out by a combination of Ben Johnson’s back and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski’s hand.
The miss proved costly moments later when West Ham defender Diop was left unmarked to head in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
It was the eighth time that West Ham have scored from a corner this season, more than any other team — and the eighth time the Blades have conceded from a corner.
It was also the 39th goal Chris Wilder’s side conceded this season, which was as many as it conceded during the whole of last season.
To make matters worse, defender John Egan left the field on a stretcher before substitute Fredericks struck the third goal in stoppage time.
The win took West Ham into fourth place ahead of Chelsea playing Newcastle in the late game.