West Ham is close to returning to Europe after coming from behind to beat West Brom in the Premier League at The Hawthorns.
David Moyes‘ side has secured at least seventh place. And a place in the new Europa Conference League standings unless the results hit them hard on Sunday.
A point at home in Southampton will secure a sixth-place finish in the Europa League group stage. It will also mark their highest position since 1999.
West Brom already knew they would play Championship football next season. But they would do that without Sam Allardyce. The Baggies manager has confirmed after the game that he will not be staying for next term.
The Hammers did not easily win the win. Declan Rice missed a penalty in the first half. Before Matheus Pereira gave West Brom the lead.
Thomas Soucek equalized early in the season with his 10th goal of the season. But the hosts continued to threaten.
Angelo Ogbonna shook West Ham’s head eight minutes later before Michail Antonio finished off the Baggies in the final.
From relegated to the European opposition
Moyes has made a significant change at London Stadium over the past 12 months. With two games left last season, they were still in contention for the Championship.
Soucek’s influence has been tremendous. But the Czech side is not alone.
The arrival of Jesse Lingard from Manchester United during the January transfer window has given impetus to the Hammers.
And Antonio has acknowledged his manager’s decision not to bring in mid-season reinforcements.
But West Ham fans will be worried about whether anyone will come up with a critical Rice deal.
The England midfielder keeps the Hammers going his crazy, mature way. And even a missed penalty could put him on Wednesday.
Rice has hit back at goal after goalkeeper Sam Johnstone took down Antonio, who had caught Semi Ajayi’s lousy return. But the shot went back to safety and out of Johnstone’s right hand.
That was after two minutes and four seconds of play, which means Rice went down in history with the first mistake in a Premier League game.
Aaron Cresswell’s inspired kick, as he held Johnstone in place and swung out of the post, was a colossal visit from the visitors until Ogbonna hi. His first goal since December, to give West Ham a valuable opportunity.
“We have played well, but in this game, we didn’t play very well. But it shows we can win in other ways,” said Moyes.
“I’m happy, but it doesn’t happen. I’ll sit back and enjoy it and check the permits. We have to win our game, and there is no danger.
“We’ve got everything this year to be in the European football ranks. But we still have a lot to do and hope to be able to cross the line.”
Allardyce’s decision marks a difficult time ahead for West Borm.
Sam Allardyce’s decision not to see the final year of his contract means a lot to the financial crisis. West Brom should challenge the immediate increase.
A few weeks ago, the former England manager said that he did not want to “bet” when he went down to the Championship. The challenges did not appeal to him.
Except for loan players who will not return, Johnstone and Pereira are likely to be interested in the best players.
West Brom fans told Pereira, “we want you to stay.” And his goal, a dangerous corner that was pointed out when Soucek put it in, stressed why.
Pereira almost had another one with a strong effort saved. By Darren Randolph, who replaced the late Hammers’ first goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, injured in self-training.
Ajeyi may have pushed the club’s broadcasters forward with a close effort Randolph saved with his chest.
But this was one of those games where West Brom put themselves in an excellent position. To get the result only to allow it to slip in the end.