An excellent Bowen penalty after Cornet was fouled, no VAR to chalk that one off, and a wonderful goal from Emerson to put us in control. The crowd sensed there were more goals in this game and it came from the excellent Antonio on 90th minute to send the crowd roaring and singing. Antonio entertains as much as he frustrates but his impact along with Bowen and later Parqueta was the difference.
The mould was broken after they made Noble as you will not get a player who will be as dedicated to a team as Mark has been to West Ham, a boyhood fan who grew up in Canning Town supporting the Hammers and living many youngster’s dream of playing for the club you watched as a child from the stands. It has been wonderful seeing so many young fans as well at the stadium and who knows which one those may grow up to play for the club and who have had Noble as their inspiration.
The party atmosphere continued from Thursdays incredible away win at Lyon to secure a historic Europa League semi final with Frankfurt and with the summer sun beating down on the London Stadium fans were hoping for more of the same against managerless Burnley, who are struggling for Premier League survival.
It was a battling, although not the best, performance that keeps West Ham in with a chance after Cresswell was controversially sent off at the end of a first half that saw the Hammers gradually taking control against a rather niggly Lyon side happy to play for every foul and tactic to disrupt the flow of the game.
But could the Hammers at least rescue a draw? With growing purpose the Hammers began to push further forward with Vlasic and Fornals making way for Masuaku and Yarmolenko to see out the final 20mins of what was becoming a more frantic encounter. So, it was a final chance falling to in form Bowen who could only chest over a cross that should have been headed firmly into the Leeds net to salvage something from a match that had 2 goals ruled out for offside, one for each team, that raised Leeds to 15th place, whilst the Hammers hang precariously in 4th anxiously watching results of those teams around us.
On a night we needed a win, VAR denied us a second goal as the ball rolled over the line off Shane Duffy. Celebrations echoed around the ground only for the decision to go against us as Antonio was judged to have been offside before the ball had hit the defender on its way towards goal.
With chants of David Moyes Claret and Blue Army and West Ham Are Massive, Wherever We Go heard long after the match had ended and echoing around Westfield, we can finally put to bed the idea that we cannot compete with the top teams.
Do we need to get used to winning? For many years it seems we craved the idea of winning regularly and assumed we would, those bubbles flying so high only to fade and die on us time and again.
It was an emotional return to the London Stadium as I have not seen my brother for quite some time and it was wonderful to see him. It was also great to see so many familiar faces – few faces I did not recognise from the final game before the lockdown last year. The hairs on the back of my neck raised as we heard the crowd singing and immersed ourselves in the bustle before the game. So glad to be back.
With the backdrop of one of the largest fan protests against owners Gold, Sullivan and Brady before the match, a superb performance on the pitch and a first goal for new recruit Jarrod Bowen secured a well deserved win to lift the Hammers out of the drop zone into 16th spot, albeit on goal difference.