Brighton’s comeback victory condemned West Ham United to a seventh-placed finish, only good enough to qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League.
As the the matches in the final gameweek went about simultaneously, a look at the scores midway through the first half gave an indication that West Ham United were set to qualify for the UEFA Europa League as Manchester United were losing to Crystal Palace. The Red Devils went down 1-0, but the Hammers were taken apart by a resurgent Brighton & Hove Albion.
Michail Antonio scored one of the best goals of the matchday to give his side the lead. They took the advantage into the break, but Brighton came out stronger in the second period, with Neal Maupay replacing Yves Bissouma. Soon enough, West Ham could not handle Brighton’s pressure as Joel Veltman scored his first goal of the season and scored the equaliser to bring the score level.
That was the cue for Brighton to ramp up the pressure, and they came close to scoring a second, as Danny Welbeck curled his shot wide. The Seagulls took advantage of some tired legs in the West Ham United camp and soon got another strike, as Pascal Gross stuck from close range.
Welbeck got the reward as he added a third in stoppage time to kill any lingering hope West Ham had by then. The defeat kept David Moyes’s men in seventh place, and they will now compete in the Europa Conference League next season, which somewhat epitomises their season, which did have its moments. Here’s how the West Ham United players fared in their defeat to Brighton.
Over land and sea, you have always been right behind us. Thank you for your support this season, Hammers 👏 pic.twitter.com/8xJTsIchLG
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 22, 2022
Lukasz Fabianski: 4/10
Fabianski was at fault for Joel Veltman’s goal and will rue the mistake, as, before that, he looked assured in his box. The Pole had no chance of stopping the other two Brighton strikes.
Vladimir Coufal: 6/10
Coufal was probably West Ham’s busiest player on the pitch. Despite being a constant outlet to make a mark in the attacking third, he had to deal with the threat posed by Marc Cucurella on the flank. He also made some crucial blocks during the game.
Craig Dawson: 5/10
Dawson looked a bit tired during the game, with the effects of a long season taking its toll on his legs. He also picked up a knock but somehow carried on for the rest of the match. The defender found it difficult going against the fluidity of Brighton’s attacks but was composed for most parts.
Kurt Zouma: 5/10
Zouma looked comfortable in dealing with the pressure of Brighton’s attacks in the first half. He began to struggle once the Seagulls went with two strikers upfront following Neal Maupay’s arrival at half-time.
Aaron Cresswell: 5/10
Cresswell had no problems keeping possession of the ball, but Brighton’s overlapping runners did cause him multiple issues. Moreover, he was limited to attacking the final third, where he is usually a threat.
Tomas Soucek: 4/10
Soucek struggled on the pitch as nothing went right for him. He picked up a yellow card for deliberately fouling Marc Cucurella, and his aerial threat was missing on the day. He was still decent in possession, but nothing could have helped his team in getting the goals needed to finish sixth.
Declan Rice: 7/10
West Ham’s best player on the pitch, Rice continued to showcase his superior quality. His teammates lacked the vision to complement the hard work put in by the English international, as he was a constant presence in midfield, breaking up many dangerous build-ups.
Jarrod Bowen: 5/10
Bowen getting just a shot away showed how difficult it was for West Ham’s best attacker to get into the game. He was either marked well by Marc Cucurella or chasing the defender as the Spaniard posed a constant threat on the flank.
Manuel Lanzini: 4/10
Lanzini moved well with the ball, but the overall output was missing from the Argentine. He failed to create anything noteworthy in this game, nor did he get any shots away, capping off a disappointing afternoon.
Pablo Fornals: 5/10
A robust performance from Fornals, as he was busy dealing with the opposition more than looking to create chances for his teammates. However, this performance was nowhere near the star showing he put up against Manchester City.
Michail Antonio: 7/10
10 – Michail Antonio is the first player to score 10 goals in three consecutive top-flight campaigns for West Ham since Tony Cottee (five between 1983-84 and 1987-88). Celebration. #PL pic.twitter.com/sIg067lkzo
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 22, 2022
Antonio suffered due to a lack of service up top, but when afforded a chance, he took it and scored a brilliant goal from his first chance in the game. The Hammers certainly need a striker of a different profile for next season or they will face games like these where things do not move according to plan.
Andriy Yarmolenko: 4/10
Yarmolenko came in to salvage a goal but could not find his way through.
Mark Noble: 7/10
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 22, 2022
Noble made his last ever career appearance and will retire as a one-club man. He may not look back fondly at this game, but he will reflect brightly on his brilliant time in West Ham colours.
Ben Johnson: N/A
Johnson had no impact on the game after coming on.