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West Ham on the brink of Europa League spot after come-from-behind victory at West Brom

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph made a rare Premier League start for the Hammers.

Celebrations after West Ham's third goal.
Celebrations after West Ham's third goal.
Image: PA

Updated May 19th 2021, 10:29 PM

WEST HAM’S LATE show put them on the brink of European qualification as they came from behind to beat West Brom 3-1.

The Hammers — for whom Ireland’s Darren Randolph made a rare Premier League start — go into their final game of the season against Southampton knowing a point will confirm a Europa League spot, while the Baggies announced after the game that head coach Sam Allardyce would step down at the end of the season.

Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa handed West Ham the advantage, yet they needed to come from behind at The Hawthorns after Declan Rice missed a third-minute penalty and Tomas Soucek scored an own goal.

Midfielder Soucek levelled before the break, with Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio striking late to win it.

David Moyes’ side are sixth in the Premier League, three points ahead of Spurs and Everton, following a remarkable turnaround after they finished 16th and survived by five points last season.

Survival is something Albion can only dream of having already been relegated earlier this month.

Albion supporters, 5,371 of them, at least got to see their side in the Premier League after returning to The Hawthorns for the first time since last March but were silenced just 36 seconds in when the Baggies conceded a penalty.

Antonio latched onto Semi Ajayi’s wretched back pass and was brought down by Sam Johnstone as he went to round the goalkeeper.

Rice stepped up but smashed the spot kick against the base of a post.

Despite the miss the Hammers remained bright, even if they lacked cutting edge, and Johnstone tipped Said Benrahma’s drive from distance over the crossbar.

Albion, having lost 2-1 to Liverpool after Alisson’s stoppage-time winner on Sunday, again battled well but lacked any punch up front.

Matheus Pereira shot wide and the Hammers looked comfortable against their hard-working yet limited hosts until the Baggies grabbed a slice of luck after 27 minutes.

Randolph – a late change after Lukasz Fabianski pulled out of the warm-up – came for Pereira’s near-post corner but Soucek flicked it over the goalkeeper and into his own net.

It was the good fortune which Allardyce believes had deserted his side this season but comes too late to save them from the drop.

Randolph partly redeemed himself with a superb save to turn Pereira’s sharp drive over 10 minutes before the break.

PA-55591791 First-team opportunities have been scarce for Randolph at West Ham United since his move from Middlesbrough. Source: Ian Walton/PA Archive/PA Images

Having fallen behind West Ham were subdued but they rallied, with Soucek shooting over and Jesse Lingard testing Johnstone before levelling in first-half stoppage time.

This time Soucek made an impact at the right end when he tapped in Benrahma’s cross from close range after Kyle Bartley failed to clear Pablo Fornals’ centre.

However, rather than lift the Hammers in their race for Europe, they initially struggled for momentum after the break and Randolph needed to smother from Ajayi to stop the hosts regaining the lead.

Slowly, though, Moyes’ side began to assert their authority and Soucek flashed a header across goal before Aaron Cresswell almost caught the Baggies cold after 64 minutes.

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Okay Yokuslu brought down Antonio 35 yards out and, with Johnstone expecting a cross, Cresswell whipped the ball over the wall and hit the outside of a post with the goalkeeper beaten.

Pereira dragged wide following a quick Albion break but the Hammers finished strongly and struck twice late on.

Ogbonna headed in Cresswell’s corner with eight minutes left and Antonio added a third two minutes from time after catching the Baggies on the break.

Randolph, who made the move from Middlesbrough in January 2020, made his third Premier League start of the season tonight, having had to settle for a back-up role behind Fabianski since his return to the Hammers.

His most recent appearance came in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in February, while his only other top-flight outing in this campaign was in a 1-0 win against Everton on New Year’s Day.

The 34-year-old’s Ireland team-mates Dara O’Shea and Callum Robinson were unused substitutes for West Brom, while Irish youth international Mipo Odubeko was on the bench for the visitors.

Fabianski’s injury will be a cause for concern for Poland, who begin their European Championship campaign against Slovakia on 14 June.

- with reporting from Paul Dollery

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