West Ham United 3 Leeds United 1: Whites too timid to grab their own destiny in Premier League relegation battle

Leeds United's fate was in their own hands at east London but when the chance came to grab it, they were just too timid to do so.

Their 3-1 defeat at West Ham United means that for the second year running, Leeds will be relying on favours to keep them in the Premier League.

Last year it was a Newcastle United team enjoying a very strong sprint to the finish who helped bail them out, this time they need a Bournemouth side whose brilliant season stopped as soon as they hit the safety mark against Leeds a few weeks ago to hold Everton up.

And then they need to help themselves.

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Helping themselves was something that proved beyond them at West Ham United.

Early on when the sun was shining on the Olympic Park, a Sam Allardyce escape act was looking well and truly on.

When the full-time whistle blew it still was, but Leeds had made their job harder than it ought to be.

They trail Everton by two points and three goals' difference going into their final game at home to Tottenham Hotspur on May 28. If they can level both those two, their vastly superiour goals scored will see them over the line.

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BODY BLOW: Jarrod Bowen puts West Ham United in front for the first timeBODY BLOW: Jarrod Bowen puts West Ham United in front for the first time
BODY BLOW: Jarrod Bowen puts West Ham United in front for the first time

But they give the impression they do not think they can and if that is the case, they simply cannot.

A West Ham team with nothing to play for and a goal's headstart should never have beaten Leeds but they did – and deservedly so.

Early on it looked like Leeds had got their wish to catch them on a day when their European exploits were still weighing heavily in their legs, or more accurately their heads.

Even with six changes from this side which reached the Europa Conference League final with victory in Almkaar on Thursday, the Hammers looked lethargic, Leeds sharp.

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FLYING START: Rodrigo celebrates opening the scoring with the Leeds United benchFLYING START: Rodrigo celebrates opening the scoring with the Leeds United bench
FLYING START: Rodrigo celebrates opening the scoring with the Leeds United bench

Atmosphere is hard to generate at the London Stadium but the terraces were distinctly flat too.

Twice in the early stages the Whites were able to release Patrick Bamford down the inside-left channel. He lacked support the first time but when Robin Koch set him free again, his pull-back deserved better than to simply bounce off Rodrigo.

When Lukasz Fabianski had to make a good save as Jack Harrison half-volleyed Luke Ayling's eighth-minute cross it only underlined the difference between the sides.

So it was no surprise when Rodrigo put them in front after 18 minutes, Weston McKennie's long throw dropping onto his right foot to volley in.

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It was at that point Leeds should have seized their destiny, but they seemed afraid to.

Rasmus Kristensen shanking a Tomas Coufal cross minutes later betrayed the fragile confidence Leeds have defensively, and gave West Ham belief.

Declan Rice produced a wild shot, then had another closed down by Ayling. Although Soucek was unable to force the corner home, it was clear the tide had turned.

When Jarrod Bowen got to the byline in the 32nd minutes. Rice's shot into the ground from his delivery was not the cleanest ever, but it found the net. As it did, Bamford dropped to the turf, his day ended by injury.

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Soon Pablo Fornals was shooting wide under pressure as West Ham counter-attacked from another long throw by McKennie - playing in the hole of a 4-2-3-1 . Bamford's replacement Willy Gnonto was on his heels when Ayling turned a cross back to him allowing West Ham to break again. Joel Robles was forced to save from Emeron.

It prompted a switching of the wingers, presumably because Sam Allardyce trusted Harrison more to give Ayling the protection he clearly needed.

When Leeds finally threw a punch back in first-half stoppage time it again underlined how low belief is, Rodrigo robbing Angelo Ogbonna as he dwelt on the ball only for Gnonto to completely miskick the pull-back. Harrison's dragged shot when it squirted his way was not that much better.

So it was only natural to expect that after a few choice words from Allardyce, Leeds would come out fighting for the second half.

They did not.

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Robles saved from Paqueta, Bowen and Coufal in the opening quarter of an hour. Maybe it was because he knew he was offside, maybe it was because he looked like he was carrying an injury, but Rodrigo was hesitant when he went through one-on-one with Fabianki and McKennie took a Harrison cross of Gnonto's head.

West Ham had other chances too but the inevitable had to wait until the 73rd-minute when Danny Ings played in Bowen to slip the ball past Robles. Video assistant referee Michael Salisbury put Leeds through the agony of a lengthy review but there was to be no offisde.

Substitute Brenden Ararson miskicked after fellow substitute Crysencip Summerville had a shot blocked, then the winger put the ball out of play after a mix-up with the overlapping Ayling. It was all a bit shambolic.

Given the goal difference situation, they could well have done without letting Paqueta wriggle out of the corner West Ham were trapped in, and certainly without Manuel Lanzini converting.

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At least Lanzini made a complete mess of a two-on-one right at the end, pulling the ball behind Rice.

"You're going down," sang the West Ham fans because that is what football fans automatically do when they are beating a side in the relegation fight.

But if Leeds play with this lack of conviction on the final day, they will be proven right.

West Ham United: Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma (Kehrer 46), Ogbonna, Emerson; Soucek, Rice; Bowen (Lanzini 84), Paqueta, Fornals (Johnson 90); Ings (Mubama 90).

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Unused substitutes: Cresswell, Antonio, Areola, Cornet, Benrahma.

Leeds United: Robles; Ayling, Kristensen, Wober, Struijk (Greenwood 84); Forshaw (Aaronson 62), Koch, McKennie (Roca 84), Rodrigo, Bamford (Gnonto 34), Harrison (Summerville 62).

Unused substitutes: Meslier, Cooper, Mullen, Rutter.

Referee: P Bankes (Liverpool).