LONDON — Goals from Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson kept West Ham in the hunt for a top-four English Premier League finish by beating Leeds 2-0 on Monday.
The east London club is fifth — two points behind Chelsea with a game in hand — after Lingard converted the rebound from his own missed penalty in the 21st minute, and fellow January signing Dawson netted from a fine header seven minutes later.
A year ago, West Ham was only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Since then, across the two seasons, West Ham has collected 60 points from 34 games and transformed from being a side battling the drop to one mounting a genuine challenge for European qualification.
West Ham had to survive a frantic opening period as Leeds began at its usual breakneck pace, almost opening the scoring when Helder Costa’s angled drive whistled over the crossbar.
The visitors then had the ball in the net twice in the space of two minutes, only for both to be chalked off.
But West Ham took the lead in the 20th minute with virtually its first attack.
Lingard played a neat one-two with Said Benrahma and skipped into the area, where Luke Ayling clumsily brought him down. Lingard had wanted to take the spot kick he won against Sheffield United last month, only for captain Declan Rice to pull rank.
This time Lingard was allowed to take it, but Rice might well be back on penalties next time as Leeds goalkeeper Ilan Meslier saved the Manchester United loanee’s weak effort.
Fortunately for a relieved Lingard, the ball bounced straight back to his feet and he gratefully tucked in the rebound.
West Ham doubled its lead when Dawson arrived at the far post to head in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
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