Hammers’ top-four hopes suffer big blow

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

West Ham’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish suffered a major blow as they were held at Brighton.

The result sees the Hammers remain sixth, a point behind Liverpool in fifth and five adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, with two games remaining.

In a game containing few attacking highlights, Danny Welbeck appeared to have given the hosts a late victory, clipping an effort over Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski after racing on to Percy Tau’s pass.

However, the Hammers levelled three minutes later when substitute Said Benrahma found the top right corner from the edge of the home penalty area.

The quality of the strike was out of keeping with a contest in which both sides struggled to find a spark in the final third.

And while David Moyes’ side pressed forward for a winner, they could not justifiably claim to have done enough to merit all three points, with Craig Dawson and Tomas Soucek both heading earlier opportunities wide.

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 ever Premier League finish of 15th.

And with games against Manchester City and Arsenal on the horizon, equalling their best ever top-flight finish of 13th, which came in 1981-82, would also not have been out of the equation.

While that is still possible, 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.

More to follow.

Player of the match

WhiteBen White

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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