It is hope that kills. For a while here at the London Stadium, relegation-threatened Leeds were teeming.
In the end, hope has been replaced by despair – the resignation of what seems likely to follow.
When Sam Allardyce was called in to save Leeds with just four games left, he reportedly identified this encounter against his former club as a must win.
His players, despite their best efforts, failed to deliver. As a result, Leeds need a last-day miracle.
Indeed, there was no watering down of the situation by Allardyce after the match, as he blamed his players outright.
Sam Allardyce knows his side now face a huge battle to stay in the Premier League
Manuel Lanzini wrapped up West Ham’s win with a tap-in during stoppage time
Lanzini walks away to celebrate with West Ham captain Declan Rice after his goal
Jarrod Bowen scored in the second half as West Ham left Leeds in the last three
Patrick Bamford was sent off after Rice leveled as the striker suffered another injury setback
“The impact of the submarines was not there. I expected more,” he said.
“I don’t think any of the substitutes made the difference today when we needed them.” We didn’t show enough quality.
“We have to look at ourselves and say that if we win next week and miraculously stay in the league, we have a long way to go in terms of quality for the team.”
“I may be mean to them, but that’s only what my very experienced eyes are seeing right now.”
MATCH DATA AND PLAYER RATINGS
West Ham (4231): Fabiansky 6.5; Coufal 6.5, Ogbonna 7, Zouma 6.5 (Kehrer 46, 6.5), Emerson 7; Rice 7.5, Soucek 6.5; Fornals 7 (Johnson 90), Paqueta 8, Bowen 7.5 (Lanzini 84); Ings 7 (Mubama 90). Replacements: Areola, Cresswell, Antonio. Cornet, Benrahma. Reserved: Paqueta.
Leeds (4231): Robles 7; Ayling 6.5, Wober 6, Kristensen 6, Struijk 6 (Greenwood 84); Koch 6, Forshaw 6 (Aaronson 62, 6); Rodrigo 7, McKennie 6 (Roca 84), Harrison 6.5 (Summerville 62, 5.5); Bamford 5 (Gnonto 34, 5.5). Subs: Meslier, Cooper, Aaronson, Roca, Summerville, Rutter, Gnonto, Greenwood, Chilokoa-Mullen.
Referee: Peter Bankes 6.5
It felt like a final roll of the dice, a last desperate attempt to shake off a reaction from his players.
Injuries to key duo Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo will only add to the anxieties. Allardyce’s insistence that he may have to change the system if both players are unavailable comes as another indication of what the veteran coach really thinks of his players.
The 68-year-old is set to stay next season; after those comments, his players might not be so welcoming of the prospect.
Victory at home to Tottenham on Sunday may not even be enough to save them if Everton and Leicester get the results they need over the next seven days.
Leeds and Allardyce live by prayer; in the last days of the season – never a good place to be.
Pain was etched all over their faces full time. They believed.
Three dots here and they had control of their own destiny. They don’t do it anymore. It’s overwhelming.
Credit to West Ham, they showed up when it would have been easier for them not to.
Their season will be defined in Prague next month when they face Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.
Here against Leeds they fought back when it might have been easier to follow the moves.
Of course, David Moyes wouldn’t accept that. His team is a true embodiment of what the Scot represents: work ethic, courage and honesty.
Moyes has been close to the sack three times this season. Yet there he is – fighting and thrashing for every point.
Rodrigo had put Leeds ahead with a superb volley from a long throw in the 17th minute
Rice equalized for West Ham less than 15 minutes after Rodrigo put Leeds ahead
If they lift their first trophy since 1980 next month, he will have earned the right to control his own future. He deserves it.
That won’t mean much to Leeds and their demoralized supporters right now.
For 30 minutes, the Yorkshiremen took the upper hand in a gripping encounter that you couldn’t take your eyes off of.
They started with an unidentifiable intensity with the rest of their season.
It meant more for Leeds. It was do or die – and for most of the first half, you could tell.
Allardyce’s instruction was clear: test West Ham’s tired players after their effort against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night.
In the 17th minute, their quick start reaped the rewards when Rodrigo hit home a ruthlessly executed volley straight from Weston McKennie’s long throw.
West Ham’s defense left a lot to be desired: Rodrigo was unmarked and unchallenged. The finish, however, was unstoppable.
Allardyce jumped to his feet before waving a clenched fist in the air accompanied by that unmistakable smile.
The laughter continued on the Hammers bench, finding a £5 note on the floor. Allardyce collected it before offering the money to fourth official Andrew Madley.
The referee saw the fun side; as did Allardyce and his assistant Karl Robinson. They didn’t laugh for long.
The interaction between Lucas Paqueta, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen opened up the Leeds defense far too easily.
Likewise, Declan Rice, like Rodrigo for the opener, had too much freedom to finish at the far post in the 31st minute.
Rice was named Hammers of the Year before kickoff. While this is the West Ham skipper’s last appearance at the London Stadium in a burgundy and blue shirt, he signed in style.
On the ropes, Leeds couldn’t wait for the whistle. Still, West Ham served more or less the same after the restart. The smirks emanating from the Leeds bench during the first half had turned into frowns of anxiety.
Allardyce was apoplectic in the 65th minute when he felt his side had overcommitted for their own corner kick.
Rice celebrated in front of West Ham fans in what could have been his last home appearance as he continues to be linked with a big-money transfer this summer
Luke Ayling looked devastated at the final whistle after a disappointing loss for his side
Big Sam knew what was coming. In the 71st minute – he duly arrived.
Danny Ings’ reverse pass confused the Leeds rear guard, Bowen did the rest by shooting past Robles.
The agony was extended by a VAR check for offside. The roar that followed told you everything you needed to know. West Ham were ahead, Leeds – on the other hand – were on their knees.
The cameras turned to a Leeds fan, his hands fixed on his scalp. He looked shocked, desperate, emotional. He was not the only one.
You expected the Alamo from Leeds but it never quite happened, although Crysencio Sumemrville was denied by a final challenge from Emerson in the 85th minute.
By the time Manuel Lanzini added a third in added time, the damage to Leeds’ survival dream had already been inflicted.
Hope? Barely for Leeds.