Declan Rice has paid Leeds a huge compliment by admitting they caused West Ham huge problems at the London Stadium on Monday night.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline as the Hammers claimed a vital three points. But the result was harsh on the travellers. They were better for large periods and saw two early goals – one correctly and one hugely contentious – as a result of VAR.
Apparently the hair on Helder Costa’s knee was adjudged to be ahead of the last defender.
And Rice has shared what West Ham’s players were saying to one another at Leeds’ electric start.
“We weren’t happy with our performance to tell you the truth,” Rice told Sky Sports. “Leeds caused us problems.
“First 10 they came out really, really sharp and had two disallowed goals. As players on the pitch we knew we had to wake ourselves up and get into the game.
“Once the first goal came we settled down and now we’re starting to learn to win ugly.
“Being a 10 day break between the last game and tonight going into was always tough as you’re so used to playing every three or four days.
“But as players on the pitch we said to each other we need to wake up, they could be 1-0 or 2-0 up.
“And where we want to finish this season, if they had been one or two up, it would have been a hard way to come back against Leeds.”
Asked why he didn’t take his side’s penalty, Rice joked: “The boss has just told me I’m taking the next one!”
Jesse Lingard happy to continue fine form
Jesse Lingard opened the scoring for the Hammers and he too admitted his side had been sluggish.
“We started slow and weren’t confident on the ball. We got the goals but if we want to push on for top four we need to be better.
“I like to commit players to have time and space on the ball. I like to drive into the box and make things happen. That was the only chance to do that (for the penalty) and it paid off.
“It is about consistency. We dropped off it a bit today. But the three points are important. We take each game step by step. We learn from each.
“It is not going to be easy every game. Leeds gave us a good game today. It is about objectives and taking confidence into the next game.”