David Moyes lives to fight another day as West Ham stop the rot with spirited fightback in Leeds draw

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A 2-2 draw brought West Ham’s turgid run of five straight defeats to an end against Leeds at Elland Road, where Rodrigo Moreno’s equaliser denied an improved Hammers three points that might truly have eased the pressure on under-fire David Moyes.

With his side now just a single goal outside the relegation zone, the result may do little to aid Moyes’ predicament but, perhaps just as importantly, may not make it worse either.

His team showed hitherto absent resilience in fighting back from a goal down through efforts from Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca to head the hosts, before being pegged back by Rodrigo’s strike with 20 minutes to play.

Ahead of kick-off, tributes were paid to David Gold, the Hammers co-chairman, part-owner and lifelong fan, who passed away at the age of 86 earlier in the day.

Moyes, searching by his own admission for an elusive magic formula, made four changes to the side that started the 2-0 defeat to Brentford and switched to a four-man defence.

Thilo Kehrer, a surprising experiment at left-back, has been prone to a howler every game or two so far in his Hammers career and delivered it early, effectively playing Rodrigo in on the visiting goal inside two minutes, only to be bailed out by a superb last-ditch tackle from Nayef Aguerd, the Moroccan finally making his first Premier League start some six months after signing from Rennes.

Kehrer endured a torrid evening, the only surprise coming when he re-emerged for the second-half, but hardly anyone in claret and blue could be excused for Leeds’ opener, which arrived on 27 minutes and with startling ease.

West Ham, having conceded twice from throw-ins against Brentford only days ago, saw the same weakness exposed as Brendan Aaronson flicked inside for Wilfried Gnonto, who was allowed to exchange passes with Crysencio Summerville before lashing home. The simplest of one-twos had carved the visitors open up the centre of the pitch, with half-a-dozen redundant defenders in shot as Gnonto found space to score.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

It had been an even game to that point but West Ham have made a habit recently of conceding goals even when well on top. Going the other way, they have looked a team devoid of identity, their forward play lacking any discernible structure and reliant on the odd moment of guile from Paqueta or else opposition error. Indeed, the Irons’ best chance of the opening 40 minutes came from 50 yards out, when Vladimir Coufal looped onto the roof of the net after Islan Meslier had raced out to meet Jarrod Bowen and cleared straight to the Czech.

Pablo Fornals was then guilty of spurning a better one, somehow side-footing wide from ten yards after Paqueta had poked the ball his way. Moyes was on the pitch, arms spread and screaming his frustrations but, as it turned out, not with the Spaniard. Bowen had been too quick for Robin Koch earlier in the move and to Moyes’ delight - and Fornals’ relief - a VAR check offered Paqueta the chance to equalise right before the break.

The Brazilian, the fifth West Ham player to step up to spot-kick duty already this season, was made to wait an age to take it and then took just as long to get to the ball, stuttering and shimmying his way through what was a run-up in name only, before lifting smartly beyond Meslier’s dive.

Scamacca, meanwhile, had once again been a peripheral figure. Moyes had spoken before the game about the Italian needing to get into the box more regularly but often when he did so here he was alone, watching clipped crosses sail over his head to a vacant back-post area.

But when his chance came - half-of-one, in fact - the forward took it brilliantly, holding off Marc Roca to allow Aaronson’s loose pass to roll across his body before curling in off the inside of the post from the edge of the D.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

The spirit West Ham have lacked of late suddenly seemed to return, one late tackle from Summerville on Coufal in front of the dugout clearing the away bench baseball-style.

The home crowd had been briefly turned by the dual concession either side of half-time, but the scuffle brought them back onside and Leeds were soon back on terms, substitute Jack Harrison feeding Rodrigo, who floated across the box and fired past Lukasz Fabianski with questions over Declan Rice’s closing down.

The goal’s timing promised a chaotic finale. Jesse Marsch was booked as the temperature rose. One captain, Rice, fired wide on the volley, then wider off the deck. The other, Liam Cooper, saw his header blocked on the line by substitute Michail Antonio, then thrashed at the rebound and skied it.

Deep into the five minutes of stoppage time, there were more chances at either end, Said Benrahma’s cross just beyond the reach of Antonio, then Rodrigo denied a winner by Fabianski’s sensational reaction save.