It was an ask too far from this chaotic Leeds side for their outstanding goalkeeper Illan Meslier to save them again at the death – and so it was that West Ham’s Michail Antonio killed the mood inside Elland Road with a typically unforgiving finish.
That’s five Premier League goals from as many games for the striker this season, and the Hammers are unbeaten with him in the team.
And as boss David Moyes admitted somewhat ominously for their rivals, this wasn’t even one of his better games.
West Ham battled back from a goal down to seal a last-gasp victory over Leeds at Elland Road
Michail Antonio (centre) burst through on the breakaway to slot the winner past Illan Meslier
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Dallas, Cresswell, Cooper, Firpo; Phillips; Raphinha (Roberts, 69), Shackleton (Summerville, 90 +1), Klich, James (Harrison, 46); Rodrigo
Subs not used: Drameh, Fuhr Hjelde, Gelhardt, Greenwood, Klaesson, McCarron
Booked: Meslier, Raphinha, Roberts
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Zouma, Coufal; Rice, Soucek; Benrahma, Fornals (Vlasic, 78), Bowen (Dawson, 90+ 2); Antonio (Yarmolenko, 90 +7)
Subs not used: Areola, Diop, Johnson, Kral, Lanzini, Noble
Scorers: Firpo (own goal), Antonio
Booked: Fornals, Antonio
Manager: David Moyes
As Antonio came to reflect in front of the pitchside TV cameras moments after full-time, a section of home fans branded him a ‘cheat’ who should not have been on the field to score the winner, reference to an arm in the face of Meslier for which he was booked.
In truth, Leeds had cheated themselves out of victory after producing, in the first half at least, their best football of a campaign that remains winless. Not since 1935 have they gone six top-flight matches without victory at the onset of a season.
This was another breathless contest – high on entertainment – but at this rate Leeds are in danger of running out of puff with not many points to show for their endeavours.
They led at half-time through Raphinha and the roar the home support dispensed with at the break just about equated to the energy exerted by their heroes on the field.
But amid the noise of this raucous old stadium comes confusion and a home team lacking in cohesion. It’s fast and furious and fun to watch, but the locals are invariably left with sad faces come the end. They are in the bottom three now.
West Ham started the first half with a real menace, so dominant to give the illusion of them being the home side. They ended it grateful for the sanctuary of the away dressing-room.
Leeds can do that to the opposition at their best. Yes, they were lucky to make it to 10 minutes at 0-0 – 0-3 would not have been unjust – but thereafter they had West Ham in a spin. This was the Leeds supporters came to see.
Jarrod Bowen jinked inside from the right to net the leveller, which deflected off Junior Firpo
Bowen (left) cracked away his shot, and the nick off full back Firpo then took it beyond Meslier
Raphinha dazzled again for the hosts and opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a fine finish
Glancing up at goal, Raphinha squeezed a strike across the despairing Lukasz Fabianski and in
The goal scorer was mobbed by Leeds supporters, but they were left deflated in stoppage time
Their opening goal did, however, owe much to the clumsiness of West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek. The Czech can look a little cumbersome on occasions and he as good as tackled himself inside his own half before allowing Rodrigo to steal on 19 minutes.
He scampered forward, waited for backup to arrive and found Mateusz Klich who in turn rolled to Raphinha to steer home first time from 18 yards.
Soucek’s indiscretion was so disruptive to the shape of his side that only fellow midfielder Declan Rice was in attendance by the time Leeds’ break climaxed with Raphinha’s classy finish. It could have been two when the scorer kissed the base of the post from similar range soon after.
A mention for Leeds goalkeeper Meslier. For he, as much as Raphinha, was the reason they led rather than trailed at this point.
West Ham netted again in the second half, but the goal had been ruled out for a foul on Meslier
Antonio protested his innocence after hitting into goalkeeper Meslier as he leaped into the air
Twice inside a frenetic opening had he saved to deny first Antonio and then Said Benrahma what looked an inevitable visiting goal. Benrahma also whipped inches wide.
Meslier was needed again in first-half injury-time when Pablo Fornals was sent clear only for the French keeper to block bravely at the feet of the Spaniard.
Soucek then celebrated like a relieved man when he poked in a loose ball from close range on 52 minutes. Maybe he and referee Kevin Friend were the only ones inside Elland Road who had missed Antonio’s arm in the face of Meslier as the ball dropped in the goalmouth. But this was always going to be disallowed once Stockley Park pressed rewind.
Tomas Soucek and Said Benrahma celebrated wildly before the effort was ruled out for the foul
Leeds should have been two up on 64 minutes but Klich wanted too much time and saw his 10-yard stab deflected wide.
They paid the price just three minutes later when Jarrod Bowen cut in from the right and his shot took two deflections off Liam Cooper and Junior Firpo before wrong-footing Meslier for 1-1. Firpo was credited with the own goal.
And Meslier was again left helpless in stoppage-time when Rice found Antonio steaming through the middle of the park unattended.
He negotiated the challenge of covering full-back Jamie Shackleton and, with Meslier hopelessly exposed, Antonio tucked into the bottom corner.