'Horrible' feeling for Hammers as top-four hopes dealt blow by draw at Brighton


Said Benrahma
Said Benrahma’s goal was his first for West Ham after 31 appearances

Declan Rice described the feeling as “horrible” after West Ham’s Premier League draw at Brighton effectively ended the Londoners’ Champions League hopes.

The result leaves the Hammers in sixth and needing to bridge a five-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea, with two games remaining.

Liverpool also sit a point above David Moyes’ side and have the benefit of a game in hand.

“We can’t be relying on other teams to lose,” West Ham midfielder Rice told Sky Sports.

“We have to go out and win – we’ve drawn too many and lost a few. It’s obviously horrible because we had the Champions League in our sights.”

Had Said Benrahma not scored a superb late equaliser, the visitors’ evening on the south coast might have ended with a fourth defeat in five games, with Craig Dawson and Tomas Soucek both heading earlier opportunities wide.

And Moyes, who felt their top-four aspirations had already disappeared, is now hoping his side can rouse themselves to earn a place in the Europa League.

“We’re trying to get a place in European football if we can. We’re still in a good place for that. It’s a great thing to say we’re in a good shout with two games to go,” he insisted.

Danny Welbeck had looked likely to give the hosts victory, racing clear in the 84th minute to lift the ball beyond West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Until Welbeck scored his 50th Premier League goal, Alireza Jahanbakhsh had gone closest to breaking the deadlock for the hosts, arrowing an effort wide of the left post with Fabianski stranded off his line.

The Seagulls, who stay 17th, have now dropped 25 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.

Brighton fail to take next step

With their place in the division already guaranteed for next term, a Brighton victory would have seen them take a major step towards eclipsing their highest Premier League finish of 15th.

Beating their best top-flight finish of 13th in 1981-82 would also have not been out of the question, albeit their final two matches see them face Manchester City and Arsenal.

But conceding just 195 seconds after Welbeck’s effort, coupled with their failure to turn half chances into goals, makes it much more unlikely.

Graham Potter’s side play with admirable composure passing out from the back, but that appears to disappear almost as soon as they arrive in the final third.

The Seagulls failed to muster a shot on target until the 53rd minute, and even then Steven Alzate’s effort came from an improbable scoring position with Welbeck better placed to score.

That sparked a flurry of good moments for the hosts, with Jahanbakhsh and Alzate wastefully failing to make the most of them.

Hammers’ hopes fade

West Ham arrived on the south coast hoping to buoy their Champions League aspirations but there was a palpable sense of deflation among the visiting players at the final whistle, despite Benrahma’s superb curling effort.

One win from their past five Premier League games now looks sure to count against them in the final reckoning for the top four places.

And both Everton and Tottenham will fancy their chances of leapfrogging Moyes’ team into a Europa League berth.

While the Hammers welcomed Declan Rice back into their starting XI for the first time since 21 March, they simply did not do enough against a Brighton side who were without the suspended Lewis Dunk and Neal Maupay.

Late claims for a penalty appeared fanciful rather than convincing and a VAR review correctly found in Brighton’s favour after Jesse Lingard’s cross at close quarters looped onto Adam Webster’s arm from his hip.

Michail Antonio failed to register a single effort on target and at times they appeared to lack invention when presented with a blue wall of home defenders.

Lingard, who has shone since arriving on loan from Manchester United, had a quiet evening and the same could be said of Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen, with both struggling to ignite the visitors.

‘We can improve in both boxes’ – what they said

Brighton boss Graham Potter, speaking to BBC Sport: “It’s always a bit disappointing when you’re 1-0 up with not long to go [and you don’t win]. Over the course of the game a draw is a fair result – I wouldn’t say we deserved more. West Ham were better than us in first half, we were better in the second half.

“West Ham have a lot of good attacking players who can attack in different ways – they’re challenging for Europe for a reason. Our boys stuck at it and did well, it’s a good point in the end.

“You think you can hold on but we didn’t manage that situation well and they scored. That’s been a fault of ours over the season – too many winning positions dropped – and that’s something to improve.”

West Ham boss David Moyes speaking to Sky Sports: “I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t take more but when you go 1-0 down with six minutes left, it’s good to get a draw.

“I thought we played really well. In the final third it didn’t quite work. We brought Said Benrahma to get us goals and assists – it was good he got one tonight.

“I thought he [Declan Rice] did OK. Just OK for me because I know the standard he’s got and what a good player he is.”

Brighton blues for Hammers

  • West Ham have picked up 28 points on the road in the Premier League this campaign – their joint-best away points haul in a single campaign in the competition (also 2015-16).
  • West Ham have faced Brighton more often (8) without ever winning than they have any other opponent in the Premier League (D5 L3).
  • Brighton have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League this season than any other side.
  • Brighton’s Danny Welbeck, who scored his 50th Premier League goal, bagged his sixth goal of the 2020-21 campaign – his best tally in a top-flight season since 2013-14 (9).
  • West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen has been substituted off on more occasions than any other player in the Premier League this season (23).

What’s next?

Brighton are next in Premier League action when they host the champions Manchester City on Tuesday, 18 May (19:00 BST).

West Ham travel to already relegated West Brom in their next top-flight match on Wednesday, 19 May (20:15 BST).

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number3Player nameWhite

  2. Squad number18Player nameWelbeck

  3. Squad number8Player nameBissouma

  4. Squad number33Player nameBurn

  5. Squad number16Player nameJahanbakhsh

  6. Squad number22Player nameTau

  7. Squad number4Player nameWebster

  8. Squad number26Player nameSánchez

  9. Squad number15Player nameModer

  10. Squad number11Player nameTrossard

  11. Squad number14Player nameLallana

  12. Squad number13Player nameGroß

  13. Squad number17Player nameAlzate

  14. Squad number29Player nameZeqiri

West Ham United

  1. Squad number9Player nameBenrahma

  2. Squad number11Player nameLingard

  3. Squad number5Player nameCoufal

  4. Squad number1Player nameFabianski

  5. Squad number41Player nameRice

  6. Squad number28Player nameSoucek

  7. Squad number21Player nameOgbonna

  8. Squad number15Player nameDawson

  9. Squad number20Player nameBowen

  10. Squad number18Player nameFornals

  11. Squad number3Player nameCresswell

  12. Squad number30Player nameAntonio

Line-ups

Brighton

Formation 3-4-3

  • 26Sánchez
  • 3White
  • 4Webster
  • 33Burn
  • 13Groß
  • 17AlzateSubstituted forLallanaat 67′minutes
  • 8BissoumaBooked at 18mins
  • 15Moder
  • 16JahanbakhshSubstituted forTauat 73′minutes
  • 18Welbeck
  • 11TrossardSubstituted forZeqiriat 83′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Karbownik
  • 7Connolly
  • 10Mac Allister
  • 14Lallana
  • 21Andone
  • 22Tau
  • 23Steele
  • 25Caicedo
  • 29Zeqiri

West Ham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Fabianski
  • 5Coufal
  • 15Dawson
  • 21Ogbonna
  • 3Cresswell
  • 28Soucek
  • 41Rice
  • 20BowenSubstituted forBenrahmaat 64′minutes
  • 11Lingard
  • 18Fornals
  • 30Antonio

Substitutes

  • 4Balbuena
  • 7Yarmolenko
  • 9Benrahma
  • 16Noble
  • 23Diop
  • 24Fredericks
  • 31Johnson
  • 35Randolph
  • 45Odubeko

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