Jack Harrison’s clinical hat-trick led Leeds United to a memorable 3-2 victory over West Ham United at the London Stadium.
The Hammers twice equalised through Jarred Bowen and Pablo Fornals, while Mateusz Klich had his goal cruelly ruled out by VAR.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side looked at their best in the opening 20 minutes, and a long ball from Luke Ayling sparked their opening goal. Raphinha got onto the end of it and laid off Klich, whose shot was blocked into the path of Adam Forshaw; the midfielder only needed one touch to set up Harrison for his opener.
"A WONDERFUL START FOR LEEDS UNITED!" ⚽— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 16, 2022
They take an early lead at the London Stadium! pic.twitter.com/3YwwF9bFZj
Back-to-back injuries for Forshaw and Junior Firpo threatened to disrupt the Whites’ electric start to the match, and sure enough West Ham equalised after Bowen used some deceptive movement to lose Stuart Dallas at a corner and head past Illan Meslier.
It only took four minutes for Leeds to re-establish their lead, though, as Ayling directed Raphinha’s corner towards the back post for Harrison to bundle in at close range.
Leeds have often crumbled in the opening stages of the second half this season, and did so again when some defensive mishaps allowed Fornals to send Meslier the wrong way from inside the area.
What a response from Leeds!— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 16, 2022
Jack Harrison grabs his second and Leeds go in front again, moments after Jarrod Bowen had equalised for West Ham! pic.twitter.com/nvul9xW25w
With the game in the balance, a switch of play from Raphinha caught out West Ham and sent Harrison clean through on goal to dink over Lucasz Fabianski and secure his first hat-trick for the Whites.
Raphinha was the architect once more when his superb solo run ended with a low cross met by Klich, who made no mistake in scoring Leeds’ fourth. But VAR harshly disallowed the strike due to Rodrigo being offside when the ball brushed him on the goal-line before hitting the back of the net.
The hosts searched desperately for an equaliser and had a goal of their own flagged for offside, but Meslier and Leeds held firm to secure a significant three points that elevate them to 15th-place in the Premier League, nine points clear of Norwich City in 17th.
Jack Harrison's PL record this season:— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 16, 2022
1⃣ goal from 17 shots before today
3⃣ goals from 4 shots today
Only the 2nd player to score a PL hat-trick for @LUFC since 2003 following Patrick Bamford last season pic.twitter.com/6TWZKX3zhM
Below are the player ratings:
Illan Meslier - 7
More of a bystander for much of the game, there was little Meslier could do to deny West Ham’s goals. But as he so often does, the Frenchman stepped up to the task when required, making a superb double save before West Ham were denied a third equaliser by the linesman. He held firm again to deny a powerful Yarmolenko effort from outside the box in the dying moments.
Junior Firpo (off 23’) - 7
West Ham’s first equaliser may have come sooner were it not for Firpo’s last ditch challenge, a leg stuck out to nip the ball away from Bowen in the penalty area. It was a promising display from the summer signing that was rudely interrupted when he came off early due to a hamstring injury.
Pascal Struijk - 7
A welcome return from the casualty list, Struijk looked as though he’d never been gone as he slotted back into his central defensive duties. A calm and steady influence, he was the more reliable of Leeds’ centre-backs.
Luke Ayling - 7
Architect for the first goal and assister of the second, Ayling enjoyed a productive performance for Leeds, but he suffered some shaky moments in defence in the lead-up to West Ham’s second goal.
Stuart Dallas - 7.5
Dallas will be disappointed he lost Bowen through some clever movement prior to the Hammers’ second goal of the game, but he made up for it with some consistent defensive contributions across the second half when the hosts turned up the pressure on Bielsa’s side. The last of those was a vital touch on Antonio’s last-gasp cross that proved to be enough to foil the six-yard box-bound Bowen.
Robin Koch - 7
He’s not quite Kalvin Phillips, but Koch is continuing to establish himself as the Yorkshire Pirlo’s most suitable stand-in. A few dodgy challenges aside, the German international’s display was workmanlike and dependable.
Jack Harrison - 9
Jack Harrison at his very best. Three clinical finishes from a player brimming with confidence, all showing an impressive level of movement and anticipation. The wide man made himself central to Leeds’ best attacking performance of the season.
Adam Forshaw (off 22’) - 8
Sad sights have been more commonplace than Leeds would have hoped this season, but few have struck a chord like the sight of Forshaw trudging off the pitch after 20 minutes. The midfielder was running the show with and earned his first Premier League assist for Leeds before a hamstring injury brought an end to his delightful return to fitness. Bielsa will hope it is not a long spell on the sidelines.
Mateusz Klich - 7.5
An integral cog to Leeds’ brilliant start to the match, Klich was once again making a habit of picking out clever passes and threading his teammates through to advanced positions. His link up play was strong and he deserved a goal to top off the performance, but his strike was harshly ruled out by VAR.
Raphinha - 8
On the back of another call up to Brazil’s national team, Raphinha came alive for Leeds in the second half. Among his delightful passes was the assist for Harrison’s third, which came after the 24-year-old briskly switched play into the clear path of his left-wing counterpart, and an even better assist for Klich’s cruelly disallowed goal, which came after a trademark solo run down the right flank.
Daniel James - 6.5
As makeshift a forward as they come, James got more out of this game than he’s had out of most where he’s led the line. His persistence in pressing kept the hosts’ defence on their toes, while he had two great opportunities at the end of the first half. The former saw him fail to wrap his foot around the ball, hitting it straight at Fabianski while one-on-one, while the latter of the chances resulted in him curling the ball just wide of the far post after cutting inside.
Lewis Bate (on 22’, off 65’) - 6.5
A tough outing for Bate, who was taken off in the second half despite replacing Forshaw in the first. Understandably, he was unable to totally fill the void left by the injured midfielder, but he didn’t look too out of place in the middle of the park.
Leo Hjelde (on 23’) - 6.5
Most young players will look unsteady after being thrown into the deep end on their first Premier League start, but Hjelde grew into the game and built on his impressive debut last weekend. He showed some potential as a reliable back-up at left-back.
Rodrigo Moreno (on 65’) - 6
The only experienced option on Leeds’ bench, Rodrigo’s appearance was marred by his unfortunate involvement in Klich’s ruled out goal. The Spaniard was on the goal-line when the Polish midfielder’s shot brushed off his body, and he was judged to be in an offside position. At times he could have been more selfless on the ball.