Chris Basham’s lunge on Jesse Lingard helped gift the Hammers, who climb above Liverpool and Chelsea, a sixth win in 10 top-flight matches. Declan Rice’s well-executed penalty and Issa Diop’s header helped lift West Ham into fourth place as Sheffield United’s Premier League survival hopes suffered a significant setback.
Rice made no mistake from the spot before Diop, who was forced off with a head injury in his previous game, doubled the lead from Aaron Cresswell’s corner. Substitute Ryan Fredericks added a third deep into stoppage time.
Sheffield United, 14 points from safety with 14 games left, went close to equalising at 1-0 only for Lukasz Fabianski to produce an outstanding save to keep out David McGoldrick’s deflected header.
West Ham had been awarded an early penalty when Craig Dawson was fouled by Enda Stevens and referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot, but after a VAR consultation the decision was overturned.
Chelsea will move back above West Ham if they beat Newcastle in the 20:00 GMT kick-off, but this was another accomplished performance from David Moyes’ side.
Is Europe beckoning for the Hammers?
West Ham’s phenomenal form after last season’s struggle shows no sign of going off the boil.
Having spent last term locked in a relegation battle, the Hammers are now in a Champions League spot, two points clear of champions Liverpool with 14 games remaining.
When Harry Redknapp’s class of 1998-99 finished fifth in English football’s top flight, they accumulated 57 points.
Victory over the Blades moved Moyes’ team to 42 points with another 42 to play for, and they have to be considered serious contenders for Europe next season.
Their latest win was down to one moment of madness and one moment of brilliance – Basham’s clumsy foul on Lingard and Fabianski’s save to deny McGoldrick at 1-0.
Fabianski had a busier game than he would have liked while at the other end Aaron Ramsdale denied Vladimir Coufal after he found himself with just the keeper to beat. But Fredericks sealed a polished team display with the third after a lovely assist from fellow substitute Said Benrahma.
With forward Michail Antonio due back from injury, West Ham look in decent shape with the business end of the season looming.
Blades look doomed
Sheffield United have shown signs of fight in recent weeks with victories over Manchester United, Newcastle and West Brom.
But they can have few complaints about the outcome at London Stadium. They were once again authors of their own downfall, Basham’s clear-cut foul on Lingard – and Rice’s resulting penalty – undoing their bright start.
McGoldrick was lively but after Diop’s header made it 2-0, the Blades then allowed Fredericks time and space to drill home the third goal.
On a night of few positives, defender John Egan left the pitch with his leg in a protected brace. Barring a great escape, a 19th league defeat leaves the Blades facing a return to the Championship.
Making a point – the stats
- Only in 1983-84 (43) and 1985-86 (48) have West Ham had more points on the board at this stage of a top-flight campaign.
- No side has failed to score in more Premier League games this season than Sheffield United (12, level with Burnley).
- West Ham have won 19 points in the Premier League in 2021 – only Manchester City (27 points) have accumulated more in the calendar year.
- The Blades have conceded the first goal of the game in 18 Premier League matches this season – more than any other side.
- No team has scored more goals from corners in the Premier League this season than West Ham (eight, level with Chelsea).
- Declan Rice’s goal saw West Ham become the 20th and final side to both take and score a Premier League penalty this season.
Sheffield United return to London for a huge game with fellow strugglers Fulham on Saturday (20:00 GMT), before West Ham host Tottenham in a London derby on Sunday (12:00).